Research Round #1- Are mental illnesses environmentally caused or hereditary?

Hello everyone,

For this weeks research round I am discussing what a mental illness is, difference between psychiatric disorders and neurological disorders, and symptoms of mental illnesses.

A mental illness, also known as psychiatric disorder (3), refers to a wide range of mental health conditions that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour (1); resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines (2).

 One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide (4). But what is the difference between a psychiatric disorder and a neurological disorder? A neurological disorder is any disorder in the nervous system. It is the structural, biochemical or electrical abnormalities of the brain (5). Examples of this are epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or multiple sclerosis (6). A psychiatric disorder; however, as I mentioned earlier, is a behavioural disorder, and is not just ‘mental’ but physical too (7). Examples of this are, depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, or obsessive-compulsive disorders. In general, mental disorders are classified separately from neurological disorders, learning disabilities, or intellectual disabilities (3,7).

 There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illnesses (2), the four mental disorders that I will be focusing on for my research rounds are depression, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder, and bulimia nervosa.


A common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Symptoms (8,9):

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (ex. pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide 


Disturbances in thought (such as delusions), perception (such as hallucinations), and behaviour (such as disorganized speech or catatonic behaviour), by a loss of emotional responsiveness and extreme apathy, and by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life (10).

Symptoms (11):

  • Agitated body mouvements
  • Hallucinations/delusions 
  • Reduced speaking
  • Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
  • Reduced expression of emotion 
  • Trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Problems with "working memory"
  • Poor "executive functioning"

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

A mental health condition that's triggered by a terrifying event either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event (12).

Symptoms (13):

  • Disturbing thoughts, feelings, or dreams related to the event
  • Mental or physical distress to trauma-related cues
  • Attempts to avoid trauma-related cues
  • Alterations in how a person thinks and feels
  • Increased arousal

Bulimia Nervosa

A serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder involving distortion of body image characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviours such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating (14).

Symptoms (15):

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Having a distorted, excessively negative body image
  • Preoccupation body shape and weight


Next week I will be looking at the environmental impact of these four disorders.

Thank you for reading


  2. http://www.mentalhealthamerica...nizing-warning-signs


Photos (4)
Original Post

Hi Amanda,

Interesting  topic, many teens today can even suffer from some of these mental illnesses, there are definitely lots of different. mental illnesses that you could cover and I see that you have already cover a few of them, I think that some of these can be passed down and others can be caused by age or other people. You could also look into what are the differences and similarities between the two groups. Overall ,nice first round of research. Also looking into the age group of these disorders can help you with some more info. 

Here are some sites that can help:

best of luck!

Grace Sun

Hey Amanda,

A fascinating topic you chose, as grace said I think I'd be great to connect some of the disorders with teens and which ones are the most popular among them. As well, when your reaserching the environmental impacts of the disorders, you could look at major events in history (WW2, the great depression, russian revolution, vietnam war) where certian of these disorders spiked in populartiy and why they did and to what age ranges. 

The great depression

ptsd in ww2 and vietnam war

Psyched to see what's next!

Hey Amanda! 

This is an amazing topic, and I'm so happy that you're researching this.

An interesting point that you may be able to discuss in later research rounds is how people with mental illnesses feel about the stigma that surrounds it; mental illnesses are very real, and are often the result of chemical imbalances in the brain, however many people believe that these illnesses are merely the byproducts of a person's weakness or self-pity. To use a rather extreme example, a person would never say to a cancer patient, "Oh, you're okay, just shake it off." People don't take mental illness seriously, partly because they don't care, but mostly because they don't know any better. I think that with the research that you're doing, you may be able to share the facts surrounding this fragile topic, and enlighten others and yourself! 

Anyways, I'm so happy that you're researching this incredibly important topic, and raising awareness for such a relevant subject! 

Here are some links which I hope may help with your research:

Good luck!  

Hey Amanda! This is a really good topic! I like that your research is simple and easy to comprehend.  I've heard of all those disorders before, and it shocks me to see how many people go through that. It's really sad.  I think it would be practical if you look into the impact it would have on your life after you get it over. In case you didn't know, my topic is about resiliency so it would be interesting to see how resilient people are with certain disorders.

Hope this helps

Hey Amanda!

First of all, great way to start your cycle! The debate between mental illness being hereditary or environmentally caused, has been going on for many years. That’s why I’m so glad you’re talking about it and its importance! Whenever I research about this topic I always find very mixed results, so I can’t wait to see what you find! Great work and I can’t wait for your next post!

Good luck!

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