People in the following groups may be at greater risk of developing mental disorders:

  • persons whose relatives suffered from mental disorders, received psychiatric treatment, attempted suicide or abused drugs or alcohol; it is important to remember that the so-called family disease burden only increases the risk of developing the disease, but there is no simple inheritance of psychiatric conditions “from parent to child”;
  • people undergoing an emotional crisis, e.g. related to unemployment or difficulties in keeping a regular job, having problems in a marriage or relationship, people in financial difficulties, people in conflict with the law; people exposed to other chronic stressful situations;
  • people deprived of appropriate conditions for development, maturation, people deprived of care and social support;
  • people suffering from somatic ailments, such as cardiovascular diseases, hormonal disorders, cancer;
  • people who abuse alcohol and other psychoactive substances (drugs), including “legal highs”.

When discussing the risk factors of experiencing the symptoms of a mental disorder, it is worth remembering that in many cases the causes of the disorder are unclear. The parents who allegedly made educational mistakes cannot be blamed. The concept of “mental illness” or mental disorder is often associated with a severe disability, preventing independent functioning, starting a family, finding a job or necessitating living in a care institution. In practice, mental disorders can have different courses, that is:

episodic – we experience one episode of illness, lasting weeks or months, resolving spontaneously or as a result of undergoing appropriate therapy – this is how emotional reactions to crisis situations, some anxiety disorders or single episodes of depression may proceed;
recurrent – there are further exacerbations of the disease, but in the period of remission the symptoms disappear completely or significantly, allowing for return to good functioning – this is how depression and schizophrenia often occur;
chronic – the symptoms are permanent, they may worsen with the duration of the disease – this is how most diseases associated with memory disorders proceed.


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