What protects us from developing a mental disorder? | Health and wellness

At a time when mental health has become a major topic of interest and public care centers are largely overwhelmed, it may be useful to remember which factors have shown to be protective in the development of mental disorders. A commitment to prevention is entirely complementary to adequate investment in a quality health care network, especially targeting the most vulnerable patients with serious mental disorders.

Starting with the basics, the first thing to understand is that our amazing mental world is an emergent property of a biological organ called the brain, that gelatinous mass weighing just one and a half kilograms, which, as the famous neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran says, “is capable of contemplating the meaning of the infinite and can to contemplate oneself, contemplating the meaning of the infinite.”

Poor treatment of the brain is always bad business, both in the short and long term. Impacts to the head of children (from accidents, falls, cycling without a helmet, or physical abuse) continue to be a public health problem. Another way to give their brain a boost is to allow them to consume toxic substances, especially during adolescence. The normalization of alcohol consumption and the use of joints among 15-16 year old boys contrasts with evidence that alcohol is linked to the development of anxiety and depression, and the link between cannabis and psychosis is clear. In people with a genetic vulnerability, the use of joints can trigger schizophrenia, which otherwise might remain latent. We can make a speech rolled up on the cannabis issue, but we also need to think about who will foot the bill for the potential increase in psychotic, often horrifying experiences. A brain that is chronically sleep deprived is also a damaged brain. This is a factor that should be taken into account, among other things, when analyzing PISA or job performance results.

And sometimes I think it also has to do with the crazy political polarization that happens on radio first thing in the morning when listeners need a couple of hours of rest. Taking care of the body is also taking care of the brain. Dietary and lifestyle habits (avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, exercise, quitting smoking) lead to good physical health and also appear to protect against, for example, Alzheimer’s disease or depression.

Some factors that protect us or increase our risk of mental pathology appear before birth. Proper nutrition of a pregnant woman, her protection from infections, complete abstinence from the use of toxic substances during this period, or childbirth in the best conditions appear in studies as important long-term factors in the life of a child. But as the pioneer John Bowlby—the psychoanalyst who best challenged the development of neuroscience—pointed out, a secure, close, and stable bond between mother (or father) and child is a fundamental protector of mental health. Through attachment experiences, a child learns to understand his own and other people’s thinking, trust others, and interact in healthy ways. In contrast, physical, sexual or emotional abuse in childhood increases the risk of developing psychosis, suicidal behavior by 4, or the risk of using illicit substances in adulthood by 11. Thus, there are two preventative measures within our reach: the first is to extend the crucial intimate experience of parenthood to the first year of life (and not just four months); and second, to reduce child abuse rates through greater child protection. Surveillance and prosecution of pedophiles needs to be greatly increased.

He bullying and social disadvantage are two factors that appear in most studies, with their protective downsides: healthy and inclusive school environments, and appropriate rebalancing and social protection policies. In the complex task of developing a life-saving project, social determinants (working conditions, wages, housing) and the ability to be resilient or adapt to adversity are equally important. Unemployment or the inability to make ends meet, of course, affects mental health. And the appeal in these cases to the individual resilience of the subject seems to some extent to blame him for his unhappiness and require him to accept and adapt to an unjust reality. But basing the entire understanding of psychological discomfort on social discomfort is partial and misleading. Given these parameters, one would say that in Scandinavian societies where there is a great welfare state, mental health must be enormous, but the reality is that the suicide rate in Sweden or Finland is three or four times higher than, for example, Madrid. . On the other hand, the idealization of meritocracy is unfair because we do not all start from the same conditions; but its opposite, suppression of the concepts of merit and individual will, sends a dangerous external message that is not conducive to personal adventure, innovation, and effort. Perhaps it is best to cultivate in adolescents three traits that are associated with long-term emotional well-being: a sense of agency or self-efficacy, tolerance of disappointment, and the development of life purpose (in a way that is consistent with reasonable social norms). balance sheet policy).

Empirical research outlines a portrait of a resilient subject: optimistic in nature, persistent, kind to others, capable of constantly re-evaluating his beliefs and regulating his affects, actively resisting stress and inclined to experience positive emotions (if I know him, I will tell you). I can imagine right away). He uses humor, meditates and seeks social support when he needs it, he is not hostile or angry (he is not hater no one troll), feels committed to what he does, gives it meaning and solves problems. But research shows that the resilience of this fantastic person is based on his sense of belonging to a group, whatever that may be, fulfilling a specific role in a larger social unit (family, group of friends, team, club, parish, lodge…). You show gratitude and compassion and feel like you can make a difference. We will have to be resilient to face this mental health crisis. Prevention is possible and may be more beneficial than waiting to treat the pathology.

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