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A New Understanding of Mental Health Disorders

A New Understanding of Mental Health Disorders


For a very long time, we've believed that mental health disorders occur spontaneously without any definite cause. We thought that anyone is at risk of mental illness, regardless of background and personality. But it seems we've been mistaken for far too long.

New research suggests that many mental issues such as depression, anxiety, addictions, and ADHD result from the combination of three factors.

  1. Biological factor - this is rooted in an individual's genetic and neural makeup regarding their dopamine
  2. Social factor - this points to how childhood neglect and abuse (trauma) significantly contribute to poor mental health.
  3. Psychological factor - this is in the form of temperament, an individual's tendencies to give in to their emotions without control.


How Does This Research Help?

Knowing how mental health disorders come about can help us deal with them better because we would be targeting the root cause. Then, we wouldn't always have to use indirect psychotherapeutic means to diagnose mental health patients.

But most importantly, we'd be able to intervene early enough when we know a person is at risk of a mental disorder due to their biological, social, and psychological attributes.


The Uniqueness of the Research

The research, conducted by scientists at McGill University, is the first to combine trauma, temperament, dopamine factors in a mental health study.

Before now, similar studies only focused on each of the factors separately. As a result, the findings weren't all that comprehensive or conclusive.

Jean Séguin and Michel Boivin, authors of this new research, decided to take things forward by combining all three factors.

They observed 52 participants from birth using brain imaging scans to measure their dopamine reward pathways. The brain activities were then combined with information regarding their temperaments and childhood.


The Result

Interestingly, combining these three factors helped predict, with over 90% accuracy, which participants had mental illness either in the past or during the 3-year study.

More funds have been invested because of how incredibly accurate and important the study is. The researchers also aim to increase the sample size and follow the participants up to their mid-20s.


Bottom Line

Without a doubt, this is a major breakthrough in psychiatry. There will be fewer blurry areas for psychiatrists and therapists trying to offer assistance to mental health patients.

They can now determine, even predict, which individuals battle mental health challenges due to their dopamine response, childhood history, and temperament.

This will make interventions relatively easier and more effective because a considerable part of the challenge has been eliminated.

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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