What plays a role in developing mental health conditions?
Most mental health conditions don't have a single cause - they have many possible causes - called risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to develop a mental health condition in your lifetime. Mental health conditions can develop slowly, or symptoms can start to appear more suddenly after you've experienced a stressful event or big change.
- Social determinants of health (SDOH): SDOH are the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play that impact their health and quality of life. There are five main categories: financial stability, education access and quality, healthcare access and quality, neighborhood and living environment, and social and community life.
- Trauma: Any experience that was highly stressful, shocking or dangerous to you can be traumatic. Trauma is different for everyone - what feels normal to someone else might be traumatic for you, and vice versa.
- Genetics: Your genes are passed down from your parents and ancestors. They act as the blueprint for how your body and brain develop and function. There's no one gene that decides if you'll have a mental health condition. Instead, many genes affect the way your brain develops, making you more or less likely to develop a mental health condition later.
- Biology and brain chemistry: Some brains are wired differently, have too high or too low levels of certain neurotransmitters, or are damaged after a head injury. Abnormalities in the prefrontal cortex, frontal cortex, and other parts of the brain can also increase your chances of developing a mental health condition.
- Habits and lifestyle: It's important to take care of your body and mind. Things like not getting enough high-quality sleep, regularly unhealthy food choices, lack of exercise, and poor stress management can all play a role in developing a mental health condition.
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