Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Which am I to believe?

  1. Dec 13, 2005 #1
    First I read http://psychcentral.com/archives/top_myths.htm", which states that Mental Illness is not based on biological problems in the brain. (#3)

    Then I read http://www.mhagstl.org/myths.htm" [Broken], which states that it is. (#1)
    Oh, and another:

    >http://www.namiscc.org/Editorial/2002/TopTenMyths.htm< [Broken]

    >http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/index-822-143_2.html< [Broken]

    Which to believe?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 13, 2005 #2
    I would think that they both often complement each other, and each is somewhat affected by the other (mental vs physical).

    (1) A physical illness can cause mental reactions and illness's(sometimes but not always), (2) just as mental illness's can cause physical reactions and illness's (again sometimes but not always).

    For example,
    (1) Poor dieting can lead to various mental illness’s (some subtle some not so subtle): If a person’s body does not intake enough iron in their diet, then the brain is deprived of this needed mineral and in return influences the way that person thinks and mentally acts/reacts. Another example is alcohol and illegal drugs – they physically alter the chemical balances of the brain and its processing to the point that they can cause a not so stupid person to do some very stupid things while under the influence.

    (2) Placebo medicine’s, various forms of hypnosis, worrying, stress, fear, mood swings, etc… – these can all influence your body’s regular functions and ‘normal’ chemical balances throughout your entire body, which in turn can affect any number of bodily functions and systems. Another example is a co-worker of mine, I tested this out several times without his knowledge just to experiment (playing god with his life I guess), I perteneded to be sick, caughing and drooping my face, and mooning and complaining all day long while around him (even though I felt fine), and the next day he either came in sick or called in sick, and remained sick for the remainder of the week.

    Another example experiment that anyone can conduct is, the next time that you are in a room full of people (20-30 people, classroom size, works best), cough out loud and then sniff really loud, do this several times over the course of a couple of minutes, and then sit back and see how many other people in the room begins to also cough and sniff loudly. It’s kind of funny actually. If you don't feel comfortable pertending to be sick, then just yawn loudly, the see how many other people get sleepy or bord.

    Also, don’t forget that since nobody’s body is perfect (except for mine), there will be inherited and genetic defects some subtle some not so subtle that can causes a persons ‘normal’ physical makeup and chemical balance's to be different than your ‘normal’ physical makeup and chemical balance's, which can cause them to look, think, behave, act and/or react differently than you would (even if your opinions and thoughts are somewhat identical).

    Anyways, hope this helps.

    Last edited: Dec 13, 2005
  4. Dec 13, 2005 #3
    Psychiatry is the most confused branch of medicine that exists. Just ignore both statements and know that the symptoms that are called "mental illness" might be from either source: organic malfunction, or emotional trauma. In most cases there are both. Take someone who starts to hear disembodied voices talking to them. That hallucination is probably the result of organic damage or chemical screwup in the brain. The experience itself, though, is so disorienting and frightening that the patient suffers further emotional distress and alienation from those around them.

    You really can't make any accurate blanket statements. Each and every symptom has to be looked at by itself.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  5. Dec 13, 2005 #4
    @speso: I've heard of contagious conditions. Interesting o_o

    @zooby: No blanket statements? Okay.

    How about Depression, specifically?
  6. Dec 13, 2005 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    An interesting question to consider here is, to what extent are "biological problems" and "emotional problems" really distinct? After all, any experienced emotional trauma with respect to 'baseline' temperament finds reflection in differential biological factors in the brain, and likewise any biological problem that is genuinely a problem with respect to mental health must likewise find reflection in emotional and/or cognitive disturbances. What is it exactly about "emotional problems" that distinguishes them from "biological problems"?
  7. Dec 13, 2005 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Just for the record, the first excerpt doesn't say that mental illnesses have no biological component; it says that mental illnesses do not consist of purely / solely / only a biological component, i.e., they could be a combination of biology and other things.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  8. Dec 13, 2005 #7


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    If the definition of the terms is part of the question, could we have an example? Say, what distinguishes perceiving a threat (emotional) from increasing your heart rate (biological)? The difference that jumps out at me is that the former can be affected more directly and to a greater extent by consciousness. I think conscious control also shows up in another common distinction, biological vs. behavioral (and the corresponding treatements: medication/surgery/etc. vs. therapy). Just some stray thoughts. I think it's a great question.
  9. Dec 13, 2005 #8
    You're right. It's not dismissed as untrue but as a half-truth.
  10. Dec 14, 2005 #9
    Hmm, I suck at looking at details.

    So illnesses are PARTIALLY biological?

    And, does anyone have any idea on the Depression part?
  11. Dec 14, 2005 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Hi all,

    Since mental illness are held by a person and are located where brain stands thus mental illness is a biological process.

    Why will there a difference with brain and other parts of body (because brain is also a body part). None.

    A body/mind distinction that came with Descartes and stands still but is a myth.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2005
  12. Dec 14, 2005 #11
    You are specifically concerned with what causes depression, or if it is true that depression is a natural part of old age?
  13. Dec 14, 2005 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I think you would have to ask this of each 'mental illness'; lots of things are called mental illnesses. Maybe it would be easier to list some things that suggest that an illness, or some set of symptoms, has a biological component. For instance, if the symptoms are relieved with medication, the symptoms appear immediately following some physical trauma, people with the same symptoms also have the same physical abnormality, the illness appears to be inherited, etc. (Again, those are just examples.)
    Heh, those two quotes just use the same words in different ways to say what amounts to the same thing: older adults experience more of the things that can trigger depression, and it is expected that the number of cases of depression in older adults would reflect this (more triggers leads to more cases). They basically say that a person will not necessarily start suffering from depression as they get older, indeed there might be ways to reduce the chances of that happening. But it is not surprising or weird that people do develop depression as the get older, and when this happens, the people suffering should get help.
    I don't know whether or not that's actually true.

    I think normal is the main source of confusion there -- it has many different meanings.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2005
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook