How Important Is It to Recognize Your Risk Factors for Mental Health Conditions?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines your mental health as your state of well-being in which you recognize your own abilities, can work productively, cope with life’s stresses and make a contribution to your community. When you are in a positive mental state, you feel good about yourself, your relationships and your ability to meet challenges that come your way in everyday life.

Any number of things can contribute to and affect your mental health on a given day, such as a broken relationship or a physical illness like the flu. Risk factors, however, are those elements that increase the chances of developing a mental illness. A mental illness (or mental health condition) is a disruption of your mood, thought and behavior, according to the APA. A mental health condition is different than the normal ups and downs of life or your mood in that a mental illness lasts for a longer period and hinders your everyday functioning.

Risk factors for mental health conditions include:

Physical factors. Sometimes, mental illness is triggered by a significant physical illness. For example, people who undergo heart bypass surgery often become depressed afterward. Cancer patients are also at a higher risk for depression.

Environmental factors. Environment applies to anything around you. Relationships, stress and social support contribute to your risk of developing a mental health condition. Environmental factors also include experiencing abuse, seeing violence or losing a parent, all of which can create an elevated risk for a mental health disorder.

Genetic factors. Some health problems occur more often in families. For example, genetic factors put a person at higher risk for diabetes and cancer. Mental illnesses like schizophrenia depression, and panic disorders all have a genetic component, meaning that if someone in your family has been diagnosed with it, you are at greater risk for being diagnosed with it as well.

Biological factors. While mental health disorders can develop at any age, from childhood to the senior adult years, both age and gender affect the rates and occurrences of mental illness. For example, depression and anxiety are more common among women, while men are more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol dependence or antisocial personality disorder.

Knowing these factors in your life allows you to monitor your mental health more diligently. You can react more quickly to a change in your mental health if you know you may be prone to it. Knowing your risk for mental health conditions can also help you when you are trying to overcome an addiction. If you have both a mental health condition and a substance addiction, this is called a co-occurring diagnosis. Oftentimes, addiction and mental illness affect each other, so it is important to get professional help for treating both simultaneously. Dealing with only one issue will likely lead to relapse.

Getting Help For Your Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, we can help. You can call our toll free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. Our admission coordinators can help you decide the best treatment options for your situation, especially if you also have a mental illness as well. We can help you find a treatment center that specializes in co-occurring conditions. Recovery is possible, so call us today.