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Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness

Current day society often doesn’t see the forest for the trees when it comes to deciphering mental health myths from real facts.

In fact, the stigmas that surround mental illness hinder our understanding about many of the mental disorders that are prevalent today—such as depression, anxiety and mood disorders, bipolar disorder, and more. Let’s examine, and hopefully dispel, these eight common misnomers concerning mental illness…

1. Mental Illnesses Are Genetic

It’s easy to paint all mental health disorders with the same brush, but the idea that mental health problems are predisposed biologically or genetically is a large mistruth, according to Dr. David Goldbloom, Senior Medical Adviser at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. When you think about the variation of mental health issues—mood disorders, personality-affected disorders, sexual disorders, anxiety disorders, impulse control issues—you can suddenly understand how all issues can’t possibly originate from one genetic source. Each disorder has its own characteristics and underlying causes (or a combination of causes, like mental trauma, physical illness, abuse, a brain injury, chemical imbalance, and yes, even a family history of mental health can play into this equation. “[Claiming] mental illnesses are all the same is just like saying that all cancers are the same,” says Dr. Goldbloom who astutely points out that the causes, symptoms, features, and treatments for these diseases all vastly differ.

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