What is Mental illness, What causes it ?

The brain controls your thoughts and your thoughts change your brain !

Mental health is a state of well -being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, maintain healthy relationships and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

Mental illness may then be considered a suboptimal level of fuctioning, interfering with ones ability to cope with stress, live productively or maintain healthy relationships. 

Mental illnesses are diagnosed based on criteria set forth by the world health organization.

People find it difficult to believe that depression or any other mental illness for that matter have any biological basis. 

It is commonly seen as a weakness of character or as an unwarranted reaction to stress. One needs to understand that all behaviour, thoughts and beleifs have a biological basis.Your brain deciphers what your sense organs feel. This experience of the external world is encoded in the brain in the form of synapses or neuronal connections. Every little thought and act has roots in certain neurons in the brain firing in certain ways.

One of the ways neurons communicate with each other is via chemical substances called neurotransmitters. One's preferences, passions, goals are all encoded in your brain as neuronal networks.

 Any physical or chemical changes in these neuronal networks would lead to  changes in thought and behaviour that one would have little control over. Psychotropic medications act by modulating these neurotransmitter substances thereby resulting in behavioural change. Psychotherapy has also been proven to correct aberrant neural networks.

People with depression do not want to be sad, people with alcohol dependence do not want to be alcoholics and people with anxiety do not want to be fearful all the time. This is not something one can snap out of, nor is it due to some mental weakness, asking someone who is fighting their own brain will belittle their struggle and make them feel guilty.

The right thing to do is to seek professional help ! 

 Just like a genetic predisposition, poor dietary habits and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to diabetes, A complex combination of biological, psychological and social factors lead to mental illness . There is no such thing as a "weak mind".
To see how stress can lead to illness click here

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Psychiatry is a medical speciality, like surgery, general medicine and paediatrics. It involves the study, diagnosis and management of mental illnesses and distressing conditons, pertaining to both the mind and body. Misconceptions about psychiatric illness and treatment have some how prevented help seeking behaviour in those who need it the most. This Wall has to go, wherin visiting a psychiatrist should no longer be taboo, and people should be able to openly and freely discuss mental health issues. 

Dr Vikas Prabhav is a psychiatrist in chennai, he runs The Vivid Mind  mental wellness clinic in Anna Nagar. We aim at providing holistic, multimodal care for those suffering from mental illnesses and adjustment issues. We offer effective management strategies for depression, anxiety, unexplained physical symptoms, addictions, child/adolescent problems and other behavioural issues.The information provided in this website does not substitute for a medical consult.