Mental Health: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Importance

Mental Health: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Importance

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This piece of article is written by Reethu Rajam, student at SASTRA University


Mental health is an important ingredient in everyone’s life. A strong body not only comprises of physical health alone, but it comprises of mental health also. Mental health refers to the cognitive, behavioural, and emotional well-being of an individual. It is mostly about how people feel, behave, or think. Mental Health not only affects one person’s mental health but also his or her physical health. The WHO has stated that around 20-30% of children across the globe is said to be victims of mental illness.

Types or Main Groups of Mental Disorders

There are nearly six major groups of mental disorders.

Mood Disorder

The first group would be Mood Disorders. This disorder affects a person’s emotional state. This disorder takes place when one person experiences an extreme amount of sadness or happiness. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-V) has classified mood disorder into two: Bipolar disorder and depressive disorder. The cause of a mood disorder can be the previous diagnosis of a mood disorder, brain structure, and function (in case of bipolar disorder), stress (in case of depression), physical illness, family history, chemical imbalances in the brain, death of a close one, etc. There are certain symptoms of mood disorders such as anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, fatigue, feeling sad, isolated, hopeless, thoughts of suicide, eating, losing interest in activities, feeling guilty. If one faces such symptoms, they should be assessed and treated by a psychiatrist.

Anxiety Disorder

The second group is an Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety while facing a test or making an important decision is common but in anxiety disorder, it causes excessive and constant fear about a thing or an issue. There are 8 types of anxiety disorder such as generalized AD, panic disorder, social AD, specific phobia, agoraphobia, separation anxiety, selective mutism, and medication-induced AD. There is are a couple of reasons why one gets an anxiety disorder. The first would be due to medical conditions. There are heart, thyroid, and lung conditions that can cause anxiety to a person and this situation can also lead to anxiety disorder. The second would be genetics. Sometimes, anxiety disorders can be passed by genes. Third would be environmental stress. This is about the events in your life that you have faced. For instance, child abuse or the death of a loved one. These can also cause anxiety disorders. Lastly, due to brain chemistry. There are studies that state that anxiety disorders can occur due to faulty circuits in the brain that controls fear and emotions. The most highlighted symptom of anxiety disorder is fear or worry. There are various ways to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorder. Doctors may prescribe for drugs that are used to treat anxiety disorders such as antidepressants, bupropion, benzodiazepines, beta-blockers, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, or buspirone. Another type of treatment would be psychotherapy. There is a trained specialist who listens and talks about your feeling and suggests ways to manage and cope up with anxiety disorder.

Personality Disorder

The third group is personality disorder. Personality disorder is when a person’s behaviour, feelings, way of thinking would be deviated from what is expected from the other. The DSM-5 lists 10 personality disorders and allocates them into cluster A, B, and C.

Cluster A (odd, bizarre, eccentric)Cluster B (Dramatic, erratic)Cluster C (Anxious, Fearful)
Paranoid PDAntisocial PDAvoidant PD
Schizoid PDBorderline PDDependent PD
Schizotypal PDHistrionic PDObsessive – Compulsive PD
 Narcissistic PD 

Causes of PD’s are trauma in early childhood, genetic factors, neurological factors, loss of loved ones, etc. Symptoms of PD’s are Chronic feelings, fear of being abandoned, unstable relations, mood swings, anger, suicidal thoughts, unstable, impulsive, etc. For treating PD patients there are effective types of psychotherapy such as group therapy, psychoeducation, dialectical behavior therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy. However, there are no specific medications to treat Personality Disorder.

Psychotic Disorder

The fourth group is the psychotic disorder. Psychotic Disorders are disorders that are caused when people are disconnected from reality. There is 2 kind of Psychotic disorders such as Schizophrenia and Delusional Disorder.  Causes of the disorder are Genetics, Life incidents, Injuries, and illness (such as brain tumor, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV, Parkinson’s disease) and drugs. Symptoms of the disorder are Hallucinations (i.e., Auditory, Tactile, and Visual Hallucinations) and Delusions. Along with counseling sessions, treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, coordinated speciality care, cognitive enhancement therapy, and psychoeducation.

Abuse Disorder

The fifth group is substance abuse disorder. This disorder takes place when a person consumes an excessive number of illegal drugs, alcohol, or pain medication. In some places, medications such as methadone and disulfiram are used.

Eating Disorder

The last group is eating disorder. Eating disorder is developed in a person when a person starts to have unhealthy eating habits when they start getting obsessed with their body weight and shape. This disorder is mostly found in young women. Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa, binge eating, pica, rumination, and avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder are types of eating disorder. Experts have found various causes such as genetic (like adoption or when twins are separated), personality traits, the pressure to be thin have caused eating disorder.

Causes of mental disorders

Mental illness can have a many reason. A person is likely to have a combination of causes. Number 1, genetic factors. Genetics actors contribute to mental illness. When a parent has a mental disorder there are high exposure of risk for their children to get. However, it is not necessary that if one person in a family gets the next generation also gets.  Number 2, Early life environment. Negative incidents in a person’s childhood such as isolation or abuse can cause mental disorders. Number 3, drug, and alcohol abuse. When people use excessive amounts of painkillers, alcohol, and drugs (such as marijuana or cocaine that causes paranoia) can cause mental disorders. Number 4, biological functions such as chemical imbalances, hormonal changes or medical conditions cause mental disorders. Number 5, Personality traits such as low self-esteem can increase the amount of anxiety or depression in a person. Lastly, Trauma and stress. When people’s traumatic experiences increase the risk of mental disorders, they are prone to also increases.  When people have stress in social life or relationship life there are chances. Also, when they have ongoing stress like final problems, domestic violence, or sexual assault they are exposed to mental illness.

Signs of mental illness

Experts say that there are few signs by which we can see if someone is mentally depressed. If a person is said to be mentally ill, we can see a lot of changes in their emotions. They might be extremely sad or angry. Not only being low, at some cases they might be hyperactive. They might have high anxiety level. In some cases, they also feel extremely guilty about their past experiences. They will also have problems of concentrating and learning. They tend to keep themselves isolated. They avoid their social life completely. They might have suicidal thoughts. To cope up with stress they tend to overuse alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs. They have changes in their eating and sleeping habits. They might also have pain in their body. In some mental disorders people have auditory, tactile, and visual hallucination and delusions. In serious mental disorders, memory loss can also take place. Dizziness, low energy, heart palpitations, numbness, fatigue, panic attacks are some other signs of mental illness.

Why is mental health important?

Being physically fit is not only important, being mentally fit is also important. When people cancer, diabetes, heart disease etc. it affects a person’s mental health. Like physical fitness is important for body to stay strong, mental fitness helps us to have a good mental health. Even when a person physically fit and he has any mentally disorder it might lead to physical problems too. Mental disorder affects a person’s healthy behaviour in everything, like adequate sleep, sensible eating, limit alcohol and tobacco, safe sexual practices etc. When a person’s mental health is diminished not only his physical health is damaged but also his immune system is collapsed. When a person faces a mental breakdown it gradually leads way to problems like drugs, relationship issues, unemployment, poverty etc. Therefore, it is particularly important for one to take care of mental health.

Mental Health Care Act, 2017

The medical health care act that is enacted to provide healthcare services to people with mental illness. This act was passed on 2017 but came into force in 2018.

This Act has certain key features.

  1. Advanced Directive – Section 5(1) states that the person wo is mentally ill, in advance, has all the right how he shall be treated and who his nominated representative shall be.
  2. Nominated representative – In case of absence of the nominated representative recommended by the mentally Ill person any relative or caretaker or the Director of the department of social welfare can be an acting normal representative.
  3. Rights of the mentally ill person:
  4. Section 4(1)- Right to make decisions regarding health care or treatment.
  5.  Section 18 – Right to access treatment from mental health services.
  6. Person living below poverty line can receive treatment free of cost.
  7. Section 21 – Every person shall be treated equal to person with physical illness.
  8. Section 22- The mentally ill and the nominated representative has the right to receive all information.
  9. Section 22(1)(d)- Right to receive information in a language he can understand.
  10. Section 23 – Right to confidentiality on his health history
  11. Section 25 – Right to access to their basic medical records.
  12. Section 17 – Right to free legal services
  13. Section 18 – Right to make complaints about deficiencies of services.
  14. Section 26 – Right to make communications or reject communications.
  15.  Mental Health Authority – It is a quasi-judicial body that is in the central and state. And their functions are:
  16. Section 43(1)(a) & Section 43(1)(d) – Maintain a register of patients and professionals
  17. Section 43(1)(b) – Develop quality and service.
  18. Section 43(1)(e)- Train all persons about the provisions of the act
  19. Section 43(1)(c)- Taking complaints regarding the deficiencies
  20. Procedure and Process – This state the process of admission, treatment, and discharge of the patient.
  21. Anaesthesia can be used on person.
  22. Section 95(1)(a) – No electro – conclusive therapy without the use of muscle relaxants
  23. Section 95(1)(b) – Electro conclusive therapy shall not be performed on minors.
  24. Section 95(2) – If Electro – conclusive therapy is done on minors it should be informed to the parent or guardian.
  25. Section 95(1) (c) – Sterilisation cannot be performed on minors
  26. Section 95(1)(d) – They cannot be chained
  27. Offences and Penalties –
  28. Imprisonment of 6 months or Rs. 10,000/- fine or both.
  29. Imprisonment for 2 years of Rs. 5,00,000/- fine or both.
  30. Decriminalizing suicide – According to Section 115, any person who any mental illness and who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed and not punish them Under Section 309, Indian Penal Code 1860.


It is now evident that there are many factors that must be kept in mind when it comes to mental health. Mental illness can cause major threat and damage in any person’s life. More attention needs to be given to people who are facing mental illness. Over the years, health care professionals given their best to treat the mentally ill. To prevent mental illness, the best method would be to talk. “The problem shared, is the problem solved”


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