Why the causes of poor mental health may share a common root

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The neat image we erstwhile had astir nan causes of intelligence unwellness has turned retired to beryllium wrong, but we are building an knowing of a caller azygous underlying factor

By Clare Wilson

Flowers petals and leaves forming encephalon style wrong male's caput silhouette made retired of writer connected yellowish background.

Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

These days, we are progressively alert that mental health problems tin beryllium arsenic debilitating arsenic beingness ones. Unfortunately, overmuch of what we thought we knew astir what causes intelligence unwellness has precocious turned retired to beryllium wrong.

In a way, this shouldn’t beryllium surprising, says Allen Frances astatine Duke University successful North Carolina, lead writer of a awesome US psychiatry textbook, nan Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV. “The encephalon is nan astir analyzable point successful nan known universe, and it reveals its secrets very slowly,” he says.

A mates of decades ago, we seemed connected nan verge of unlocking nan secrets of respective intelligence wellness conditions. The origin was thought to beryllium irregular levels of various encephalon chemicals, which could beryllium remedied pinch drugs. Depression, for example, was thought to stem from a deficiency of nan encephalon signalling chemic serotonin, partially because nan astir communal benignant of antidepressants raise levels of this compound. Genetic studies besides recovered that group pinch slump were much apt to person a cistron version that lowers serotonin. Schizophrenia was thought to beryllium caused by excess activity of circuitry involving a different encephalon chemical, called dopamine.

But this neat image turned retired to beryllium a mirage. The latest grounds suggests that low serotonin isn’t a origin of depression, and galore early familial studies that implicated azygous encephalon chemicals arsenic a origin of circumstantial conditions were carried retired utilizing technological methods now considered to person been flawed.

Mental wellness conditions do person a beardown heritable component. For instance, someone whose identical copy has schizophrenia has astir an 80 per cent chance of processing …