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Mental Illness Affected By The Environment

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There are many taboo topics that are not talked about openly in homes, schools, with friends, or anyplace. One of those topics is mental illness. Mental illness has many causes behind it and many opinions about where it begins or how it is caused. The belief that mental illness is caused by environmental factors is an idea that I strongly agree with. Mental illness is a pattern of behavioral or psychological symptoms that causes significant personal distress and impairs the ability to function in certain areas of life. It strongly affects a person’s everyday life and the experiences that they will go through throughout their lifetime. From different perspectives, some people believe that it is a part of genetics and others believe that it is based from an individual’s environment. Genetics are truly what make an individual who they are, but the environment that they are raised in has a huge impact upon their life as well. From the time a person is born, to the time they are a fully developed adult, they are bound to be influenced by the environment around them. In research produced by Douglas Levinson, a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, he states that “environmental exposures may be strong enough to trigger mental illnesses regardless of a person’s genetic makeup”.

The events that occur in a person’s life will always have an effect on them whether they were good or bad, but in the case of mental illness the events will always have been bad. Exposure to repeated negative events or happenings will always linger in a person’s long term memory because that is a majority of what they have experienced. The memory of the event occurring repeatedly will show up in their dreams, or they will have flashbacks that may cause them to become paranoid. For example, many soldiers who come back from the army are diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) because of the experiences that they went through while on missions. Their genetic make-ups have no influence on whether or not they will have had a mental illness. There are many factors from a person’s environment that can influence the development of their mental illness over the years, like drugs, moving to different schools, financial hardships, alcohol, and much more.

An environmental impact comes from all around, it is not just based around home life. Even though there aren’t many studies of how an environment fully affects a person’s mental state, there are multiple people in agreement that the environment is more influential than genetics. Genetics have some chances of influencing a person’s mental health, but an environment is more impactful because there are increases occurring everyday. Genetics are not solely a main factor because they only control and influence so much in a person’s DNA. Yes, it is true that a person’s line of genetics can be inherited and so will the traits and disorders that are found in the family, but mental disorders have a forty-five percent chance of being passed down as well. It is cited by physician Ranna Parekh, that nearly “three-fourths of all mental illness begin around age twenty-four”; that is still a developing age for men and even some women.

With this occuring in a not yet fully developed brain, there is bound to be harsh routines that develop from trying to figure out a cure on their own. Environmental factors are more influential because of the influences that the environment has on a person’s life, especially in young adults. People are influenced by their surroundings because it is what they first experience in life and what will either break them down negatively or build them up positively. However, no matter if the environment that they live in is good or bad, it is still up to the person to make the decision on whether or not they will try to do better or worse in life. There are multiple obstacles that will still come in the way of life to create challenges for people to overcome. Those challenges are part of the environment and can cause deeper trauma on the mental health because of how far the person decides to go into those challenges.

For example, if a person uses drugs to cope with the feeling of being alone or to become numb to what others do them, they have a choice to either find an alternative so they won’t become hooked on drugs or continue to use the drugs and soon overdose or live in the streets forever. If they choose to stay on drugs then their mental state will deteriorate and lead to one of the many mental illness that are brought on by drugs or increase the effects of the mental illness that they already have. These are the reasons why the environment is more impactful than just simple genetics. In conclusion, mental illness is majorly caused by environmental factors. An environment has huge influences over a person to the highest extent throughout everything they do in life. Mental illnesses are still discoveries in the making that need to be carefully diagnosed when a person is not acting as their normal self.

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