A book entitled The Broken Bone penned by Nancy Andreasen talks about how neurotransmitters and mental health are connected. While there are several causes for mental illness, one of them is having a chemical imbalance in the brain which can be rectified using psycho-pharmaceutical medications. Once the levels of neurotransmitters are restored, mental health is also restored.
According to psychologists and mental health professionals there are 4 main groups of mental illnesses and all of them are associated with an imbalance of neurotransmitters. The first type of mental illness is labeled affective disorders, as it affects the patients emotionally. There are 2 types of affective disorders, namely depressive or unipolar disorder and manic or bipolar disorder.
Researchers have found that people suffering from depression often have low levels of norepinephrine or serotonin. On the other hand, mania occurs due to high levels of catecholamine. Norepinephrine is a type of catecholamine.
The second type of mental illness is known as schizophrenia disorders. Patients suffering from any one of these schizophrenic disorders display common traits, such as delusions and hallucinations. There are several neurotransmitters missing or deficient in such patients. The patients can also suffer from changes in the way the neurotransmitters function, as is seen in paranoid schizophrenia.
The third type of mental illness is made up of anxiety disorders, including phobic disorders. A person suffering from anxiety disorder does not require a stimulus in the environment. The anxiety is present always whether or not a stimulus is present. Anxiety is caused by the pons, a part of the human brain stem, which is responsible for secreting norepinephrine. Patients suffering from anxiety disorders have high levels of epinephrine compared to normal people. Even anti-anxiety drugs can cause higher secretion of norepinephrine, which, in turn, can again result in anxiety.
The final type of mental illness includes different types of dementias. Lack or reduced levels of different neurotransmitters cause different types of dementia. For instance, Alzheimer's disease is attributed to reduced levels of neuropeptide Y, somatostatin and NMDA.
Hence, it is clear that neurotransmitters have a profound effect on mental health. If the levels of neurotransmitters are brought to normal, some of the types of mental illnesses can be reversed. Therefore, it is very important that if a person suffering from any type of mental health problem to get their neurotransmitter levels checked. Consulting a mental health professional is a must and seeking appropriate treatment is also a must if a person wants to regain their life and lead a normal and healthy life.
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VernonJohn.org: The Role Of Neurotransmitters In Mental Illness