Mental Health Perceptions- Part 2

Yesterday, I posted part 1 of Mental Health Perceptions. (Today I am writing this as I am caring for my son with autism, so I hope you are able to overlook any spelling/grammatical errors I may make. 😊)

To quickly recap I listed the following three thoughts I had regarding the way mental health issues are treated by many (not all, of course.) Those three points are:

  1. not real, all in someone’s head
  2. not an illness or not having a physical/physiological cause
  3. indication of having a spiritual problem

I discussed point one yesterday, and today will explain my thoughts on the next which is that mental health issues are:

2.Not an “illness” having a physical/physiological cause.

I am not a doctor or by any means saying all mental illnesses have a physiological cause, but I believe many if not most do. Whether a psychological event caused the physical component of the mental illness or the mental illness caused a physiological issue within a person’s body, it is a real illness often with a physical component. Perhaps the correct tests, documentation have not been given. Even, if it can’t be seen or hasn’t been measured, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A person’s words and behaviors prove otherwise. I was studying this topic several months ago and found the following regarding mood disorders such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, indicating neural dysfunction within these illnesses. (Sorry, if the following is overboard on the medical jargon, just felt it really explains the physical/physiological nature of mental illnesses.)

“Several studies suggested the neural networks modulating aspects of emotional behaviour to be implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. These networks involve the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and closely related areas in the medial and caudolateral orbital cortex (medial prefrontal network), amygdala, hippocampus, and ventromedial parts of the basal ganglia, where alterations in grey matter volume and neurophysiological activity are found in cases with recurrent depressive episodes. Such findings hold major implications for models of the neurocircuits that underlie depression. In particular, evidence from lesion analysis studies suggests that MPFC and related limbic and striato-pallido-thalamic structures organize emotional expression. The aim of this paper is to review the contribution of the most relevant studies with single photon emission tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to the understanding of pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD), with particular focus on the reversibility of functional correlates with treatment.” (Anatomical and functional correlates in major depressive disorder: the contribution of neuroimaging studies Silvia Rigucci et al. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar.)

“Although mood disorders constitute leading causes of disability, until recently little was known about their pathogenesis. The delineation of anatomical networks that support emotional behavior (mainly derived from animal studies) and the development of neuroimaging technologies that allow in vivo characterization of anatomy, physiology, and neurochemistry in human subjects with mood disorders have enabled significant advances towards elucidating the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD). In this review, we integrate insights from human and animal studies, which collectively suggest that MDD and BD involve dysfunction within an extended network including the medial prefrontal cortex and anatomically-related limbic, striatal, thalamic and basal forebrain structures.

(Abstract from Neural circuits underlying the pathophysiology of mood disorders Joseph L Price et al. Trends Cogn Sci. 2012 Jan.)

Again, medical jargon aside, the basic gist of the above sources indicate an actual, measurable dysfunction within different parts of the brain in certain mental/mood disorders….you know like an illness affecting any other organ of the body. 

I’m sure this is widely understood and known among doctors and those within the medical community and has been for some time. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a huge chasm in this understanding among the general public…at least from my point of view.  This understanding is so important for those who have a mental illness to get proper and effective treatment and for it to be classified by all as an illness like any other. 

I know that was a lot of info. 🙂 Next time I’ll wrap this whole discussion up with thoughts about spirituality/religion and mental illness.  


Your friend,


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