How Your Environment Can Affect Your Mental Health

Mental health conditions are complex. Symptoms often look different from person to person. Some treatment options might work well for some people while having no affect on others. Even the reasons why a person might have developed a condition is never clear-cut and often includes a variety of factors.

It’s never quite black and white “why” someone might have acquired a mental health diagnosis. There are certain circumstances that are worth noting, however. Genetics are certainly one element that play a role in a person’s predisposition to mental illness. However, environmental factors also play a significant role in a person’s development of a mental illness—a fact which may shed light on the potential for risk management.

Prenatal Environmental Factors

There are events that take place while a person is in the womb that can lead to the development of a mental illness. These include drug and alcohol abuse, which can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). While there are physical effects of FAS, mental ones include being more susceptible to mood swings, inability to concentrate, delayed mental development, hyperactivity and poor judgement.


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Early Development

There are other events that can take place in a child’s life that may affect their mental health as they grow up. Neglect, abuse or a traumatic event can all cause a child to develop a mental illness or disorder. One study conducted at Harvard, found that 53% of those who suffered from three or more types of maltreatment as a child were eventually diagnosed with depression, while 40% were diagnosed with PTSD.  

Significant Life Events

Significant life events can also influence a person’s mental wellbeing. Circumstances such as extreme school stress, peer pressure, a move or a loss of a loved one can all lead to diagnoses such as anxiety, depression or an adjustment disorder. PTSD is also often diagnosed after someone endures a traumatic event.

It’s not easy to pinpoint the exact cause of a mental health condition. Environmental factors can have a large influence on an individual’s development, so they are important to consider when seeking techniques for prevention or treatment.

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