Mental Health

  • Certain factors may increase your risk of developing mental illness, although the precise cause of mental illness isn’t known.  The following are some risk factors for mental illness:1
  • Being abused or neglected as a child
  • Having a biological relative, such as a parent or sibling, with a mental illness
  • Having a chronic medical condition, such as cancer
  • Having few friends or few healthy relationships
  • Experiences in the womb — for example, having a mother who was exposed to viruses or who had poor nutrition may be linked to schizophrenia
  • Undergoing stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one’s death or a divorce
  • Undergoing traumatic experiences, such as military combat or being assaulted
  • Use of illegal drugs

Getting helpThe leading cause of disability is mental illness.  Untreated mental illness can cause severe behavioral, emotional, and physical health problems in addition to reducing your overall quality of life.  There may also be legal and financial problems as a result of mental illness. The following are some possible complications related to mental illness1:

  • Family conflicts
  • Heart disease and other medical conditions
  • Homelessness
  • Missed work or school, or other problems related to work or school
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Poverty
  • Social isolation
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicide
  • Unhappiness and decreased enjoyment of life


  • All parts of the body’s stress apparatus (the brain, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and muscles) become chronically over-activated or under-activated if stress becomes persistent and low level.  Over time there may be physical or psychological damage due to chronic stress.  In certain situations, like preexisting heart conditions, acute stress can also be harmful.2
  • The onset of depression or anxiety has been associated according to studies with the inability to adapt to stress.  There is a reduction in the quality of life due to reduced feelings of pleasure and accomplishment due to stress.  In times of stress, relationships are often threatened. 2
  • Stress can also have many other negative effects on health including heart disease, stroke, immune system, gastrointestinal difficulties, diabetes, pain, sleep disturbances, sexual and reproductive dysfunction, and difficulties with memory, concentration, and learning.2

Stressed out


1.Mayo Clinic. (1, September 2010). Mental Health: Complication.  Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

2. University of Maryland Medical Center. (1, January 2011). Stress-Complications. Retreived February 7, 2012, from