You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to just “get over” their illness, so why aren’t people with mental health disorders afforded the same courtesy?
A common plague of mental health stigma is the idea that the disorders are a fallacy that’s “all in a person’s head.” In reality, mental illness is far from a person’s control, and only 25 percent of people with a mental illness feel like others are understanding or compassionate about their condition, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thankfully, emerging research is starting to shatter the longtime misconception that mental illness is the sufferer’s own fault. Below are several scientific studies that suggest mental illnesses are a biological, physical condition.
Depression may be caused by inflammation.
Some research suggests that depression and brain inflammation may be linked. The connection may lie in the production of cytokines, the proteins that result from inflammation to protect the body from overexertion, Discover magazine reported. In essence, a little inflammation (and the resulting cytokines) is fine and happens naturally in the body, but an overproduction of cykotine may lead to health issues, one of which may be depression.
In a meta-analysis of nearly 30 studies, researchers from the University of Granada looked at how depression can happen biologically. The data found that depression may be linked with oxidative stress, a cellular process in the body that occurs when there aren’t enough antioxidants to clear out dangerous free radicals that can lead to illness.
This suggests that depression could be a systemic, total-body illness, according to the study’s authors. It may also explain why people with depression are also more susceptible to health issues like heart conditions.
Mental illness could be hereditary.
Studies suggest mental health conditions like schizophrenia and anxiety could be inherited. The key lies in genetic relationships. The likelihood of having the disorder may increase if a first or second-degree relative (like a parent or an aunt) also had the condition.