Causes of Mental Illness

Mental illness can be caused or made worse by chronic stress from any of the following conditions:

  • Physical factors. Physical illness, disability, or aging can cause stress that may lead to mental illness.  Substance abuse or a chemical imbalance can also lead to mental illness.  Self-respect and self-worth are the building blocks of mental health.  They are challenged when ill or disabled people have difficulty with their activities of daily living (ADLs). They may become fearful of the future. They may be concerned about their dependency on others.
  • Environmental factors. Weak interpersonal or family relationships, or traumatic early life experiences (such as suffering abuse as a child) can lead to mental illness.
  • Mental illness can occur repeatedly in some families.  This may be due to inherited traits or family influence.
  • Different people can tolerate different levels of stress.  People have different ways of coping with stress. When the amount of stress becomes too great and a person cannot cope with it, mental illness may arise.