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How Important Is It to Recognize Your Risk Factors for Mental Health Conditions?

Mental health conditions are not exclusive to a specific group of people. They can affect any person at any time. However, there are certain risk factors that may increase your chances of developing a mental health condition like depression, anxiety, PTSD or addiction. Understanding and acknowledging your personal risk factors for various mental health conditions can not only help you to prevent them, but also increase your likelihood of seeking early treatment.

Risk Factors of Mental Health Conditions

Although many mental health conditions share similar risk factors, there are some differences between them. According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for major depressive disorder include the following:

  • History of anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Certain personality traits, such as having low self-esteem or being overly dependent, self-critical or pessimistic
  • Family history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide

According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for generalized anxiety disorder include the following:

  • Having a temperament that is timid, negative or avoidant
  • Family history of generalized anxiety disorder
  • Being female

According to the Mayo Clinic, people of all ages can have post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some factors may make you more likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic event, such as:

  • Experiencing intense or long-lasting trauma
  • Having experienced other trauma earlier in life, including childhood abuse or neglect
  • Having a job that increases your risk of being exposed to traumatic events, such as military personnel and first responders
  • Having biological relatives with mental health problems, including PTSD or depression

According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for addiction include the following:

  • Family history of addiction
  • Being male
  • Having another mental health disorder, such as depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety, depression and loneliness
  • Taking highly addictive drugs, such as stimulants, cocaine or painkillers

If you are concerned about your risk factors for any of these mental health conditions, you should speak with your healthcare provider.

Importance of Knowing Your Risk Factors

Being aware of your risk factors for the different mental health conditions can help you prevent them. For example, someone who understands that his family’s history of addiction is a risk factor may be more inclined to avoid using drugs or alcohol. Likewise, a young woman with a history of childhood abuse and a career in law enforcement may need to seek counseling to resolve her childhood trauma and develop coping mechanisms to use while on the job.

Recognizing your risk factors for mental health conditions can also increase your chances of seeking early treatment if signs and symptoms start to arise. Someone with a family history of major depressive disorder, for example, may be more likely to recognize the early warning signs and understand the importance of seeking treatment. Treating mental health conditions early in their development often results in greater outcomes.

Get Help for Mental Health Disorders or Addiction

Choosing treatment is the first step toward a better life. Therefore, if you or a loved one suffers from a mental health disorder or addiction, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatments for mental health disorders and addiction.