Brain > Brawn - Why Mental Health Disorders Emerge in the Early 20s

We live in an image conscious society, people spend numerous hours in the gym, toning muscles, flattening stomachs, and running on the treadmill.  But what about our mental health?  Even with a perfectly fit body, what is the body without a sound mind?

In the article posted on VICE, VICE Social Editor, Hanson O’Haver, discusses the common belief that many mental health issues arise in late adolescence or early adulthood.  He discussed with mental health expert, Dr. Johanna Jarcho, if this is indeed true as well as how much of the development of such conditions are genetic versus environment. 

Furthermore, the article discusses what you should and can do if and when you experience a mental health crisis.  I offer my thoughts on the article as well as share the original article for review.

"The Rage" - An Illustration of a Mental Health Crisis

"The Rage" - An Illustration of a Mental Health Crisis

Per Dr. Jarcho, most mental health disorders do emerge earlier in life.  This is due to the malleability of the brain up until the mid-20s.  Essentially one’s experiences and social settings can have a profound impact on how the brain continues to develop from adolescence through early adulthood. 

With regards to genetics versus environment – take away points from their discussion were that some disorders (bipolarism and schizophrenia) have a much stronger genetic correlation whereas other disorders (depression and anxiety) appear to be less genetically linked and possibly more influenced by one’s environment.  Although some things are known, much is yet to be fully understood and further research will be needed to define the differences and roles genetics as opposed to environment play in the development of a range of mental health disorders. 

One very important assertion made in this article is that mental illness is not necessarily an inevitable conclusion for the unlucky.  Dr. Jarcho believes that being in the correct social environment and trying to focus on positive thoughts can help protect those at risk for developing symptoms of mental illness. 

What I find most helpful about this article is that it urges people to seek help early if they feel they’re experiencing a mental health crisis.  How you respond early in your illness can have profound effects on your mind’s ability to deal with such challenges to either mitigate the issue as much as possible, if not fully overcome what is being experienced.   She goes on to make the point that at times people will wait until symptoms are severe to seek help because they do not want to spend the money required to see a trained professional.  I don’t know how broadly generalizable that statement is, however I can understand that medical costs can be prohibitive to some patients.  I do believe that by waiting to seek treatment and allowing symptoms and routines to become harder to break, patients will ultimately suffer more and their care will likely also be more expensive.  Earlier treatment can lead to better long term outcomes.

Lastly, I agree with the final points Dr. Jarcho makes in this article.  Those who seek mental health services should not do so with the belief that they will be negatively labeled or that their individual situations are beyond help.  People should know that with treatment it is possible to decrease the severity and duration of symptoms.  For those for which symptoms may persist indefinitely, it truly is better to get treatment sooner rather than later to lessen the long term effects their disorders can cause to their lives. 

Confronting mental illness takes courage on the part of the patient.  Sometimes it can be difficult to acknowledge that a problem exists and that professional help may be needed.  For those that may not feel comfortable reaching out to a mental health professional, I would advise at the very least enlisting the support of a trusted loved one or friend.  You do not need to suffer through your condition alone.  Remember being in the right environment, around positive people, and focusing on positive thoughts may help stabilize whatever crisis is being experienced.  Once the patient feels comfortable, please reach out to a professional for further assistance, counseling, and direction.  Remember the body cannot flourish without a healthy mind, brain has been and will forever be greater than brawn.  Keep that in mind and thanks for reading.

Click to read the original article on VICE.

Doc Roddy