Good question! For an illness that affects one in five U.S. adults, it’s about time that we all familiarized ourselves with a brief description and analysis of mental illnesses in general. While we’re at it, let’s raise awareness of it and shatter the stigma that surrounds it.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health or NIMH, the term, “mental illness,” is defined as a “mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder” (2022). Likewise, a serious mental illness is one that really “interferes with or limits one or more major life activities” (NIMH, 2022).
Mental illnesses mainly range from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADD/ADHD, schizophrenia, autism, dementia, PTSD, Addiction/Substance abuse, insomnia, eating disorders, and borderline personality disorder. Each of the main mental illnesses will be discussed in my future blogs, Insha’Allah. Despite the main mental illnesses, certainly there are hundreds of other mental disorders.
What Is the Root Cause of Mental Illness?
Traumas, which are disturbing experiences, may trigger a mental illness among other causes. This is especially true if the individual is repressing his/her emotions. Dr. Candace B. Pert, was a neuropharmacology research trailblazer who discovered the cellular binding site for endorphins in the brain, aka the “opiate receptor.” In her book Molecules of Emotion, she concurs by mentioning the following:
“Repressed traumas caused by overwhelming emotions can be stored in a body part, thereafter, affecting our ability to feel that part or even move it” (Molecules of Emotion, 141).
I love her precise, scientific explanation of emotions which is the following: “Emotions. The neuropeptides and receptors, the biochemicals of emotion, are, as I have said, the messengers carrying information to link the major systems of the body into one unit that we can call the body-mind…emotions…are involved in the process of translating information to the physical reality” (Molecules of Emotion, 189).
Repressed emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, trigger a “dis-integrity in the system, causing it to act at cross-purposes rather than as a unified whole” (Pert, Molecules of Emotion, 192). In turn, this causes “blockages and insufficient flow of peptide signals at the cellular level” (Pert, Molecules of Emotion, 193). Peptides are “short strings of amino acids (building blocks of proteins that are essential for the creation of neurotransmitters). Neuropeptides are “short chains of amino acids which serve as neurotransmitters, transmitting impulses to another neuron, muscle or some other structure.”
According to Dr. Pert, when it comes to neuropeptides, they become blocked due to blockages of the antibodies that are created within our immune system. Our immune system helps protect our bodies from illness. A balanced immune system alludes to good health, whereas an imbalanced immune system alludes to “dis”-“ease,” or disease.
This deduction of essential information about the root cause of mental illnesses finally brings me to the following conclusion: Mental illnesses are more prevalent among persons with an autoimmune disorder. In general, imbalances of the immune system bring about mental disorders. More information to come about this conclusion and ways to control mental disorders in a future blog post, Insha'Allah.