By: April Carson
Mental health issues are widespread and can affect people of any age, gender, or social background. However, recent research suggests that there may be a common root cause of many mental health conditions.
Currently, we're becoming more conscious that mental health issues can be just as incapacitating as physical conditions. However, some of the previously held beliefs about the root causes of mental illness have been proven wrong. While genetics, environmental factors, and traumatic life experiences can be contributing factors to mental health issues, researchers are now hypothesizing that many of these conditions may be caused by a common root.
A recent study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested that this root could lie in how an individual's brain is wired. The research suggests that certain wiring patterns exist in people with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety which prevent them from properly processing information or forming connections between different ideas and concepts. This could explain why some individuals have difficulty managing their emotions or responding to stressors appropriately.
According to Allen Frances, a lead author of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV at Duke University, it's not surprising that the study of the brain is complex and slow as the brain is the most complicated thing in the known universe. However, the results of this study could provide a better understanding of how various mental health issues are connected and the potential for more personalized treatment plans in the future.
The recognition that all mental health conditions may be caused by a common root is an important step forward in helping us to understand and treat these conditions. This research provides preclinical evidence that could help direct future studies into developing therapies and treatments that can effectively target this underlying cause.
A few decades ago, we were close to understanding multiple mental health disorders. Drugs were believed to be an effective cure since the root cause of these disorders was assumed to be irregular levels of different chemicals in the brain. The lack of serotonin, a chemical responsible for brain signaling, was thought to cause depression. This was supported by the fact that the most widely used antidepressants increase serotonin levels. Further genetic research has revealed that individuals with depression tend to carry a gene variant that reduces serotonin levels. Meanwhile, the overactivity of circuitry associated with dopamine, another brain chemical, was believed to contribute to schizophrenia.
With this discovery, mental health researchers will have to shift their focus from just looking at how psychological processes affect the brain and looking at how the wiring of the brain affects our mental state. This novel research could help us develop better treatments for these conditions by targeting not only the external factors that contribute to them but, more importantly, their common root cause.
The idea that low serotonin causes depression, which was once widely believed, has now been discredited by new evidence. Additionally, earlier genetic studies that linked single brain chemicals to certain conditions have been found to have used flawed scientific methods. Therefore, the neat picture that was once painted by these beliefs has turned out to be a mirage. "The truth," says Dr. Frances, "is that we don't know much about the causes of mental illness, but this study is a step in the right direction."
The discovery of a common root cause of many mental health conditions could be the breakthrough we need to improve treatments and provide better therapies for those affected by them. While this research has only just begun, it is an exciting development and could lead to important changes in how these disorders are treated in the future.
It is strongly believed that mental health conditions are hereditary. For example, if someone has an identical twin with schizophrenia, there is an 80% chance they may also develop it. While genetics can play a part in mental health issues, this new research shows that a common root cause may be at the center of it all.
By understanding the wiring patterns behind these conditions, we can begin to create more personalized and effective treatment plans. "The hope is that in the future, physicians and mental health professionals will be able to use this knowledge to develop better treatments for those affected by mental illness," said Frances.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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