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Isabel Field

sole proprietor/director, CHILD ADVOCATE CLASS ACTION & CHILD ADVOCATE

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Debate: Is mental illness contagious?

We are constantly being told 'it is in our genes' But I feel perfectly normal kids can have their mental state changed because of mistreatment. I also feel that being exposed to mental illness can cause mental illness.What do you think and what are your experiences?

Topics: science society
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    Oct 29 2012: Are you asking whether mental illness is contagious in the sense in which illnesses are (with the transmittal of bacteria or viruses from one infected person to another) or whether a person's environment and experiences can influence his/her mental state to trigger conditions like high anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, self-harm, and so forth?

    I think the answer to the first is no and the answer to the second yes.
    • Oct 29 2012: Some bacteria or viruses affect the brains functioning,I feel, which can alter our mood, or create weakness such as delerium which alters the ability to think. Some experiences can cause mental illness such as post traumatic stress disorder, which has can create overwhelming unsought memories of reliving the impacting event. So I would say yes to both of your questions.Some years ago I attended a garden party where two infants between ages 6-12 months were present. They were approx one month different in ages. One was bubbly and bouncy,full of movement and smiles. The older infant was still,silent and not smiling. The mother of the silent child had, unfortunately, suffered a full-term still birth very shortly before becoming pregnant with her living silent infant.I felt mum had severe depression and as dad was often working long hours, mum was the child's role model. The infant was well enough sized, but appeared to share mums depression, Fast forward a couple of years and the whole family appeared back to normal. A different primary aged child had a brain injured delusional prone and violent,but undiagnosed elderly relative living temporarily with them. The child started to develop anxiety and altered speech states.These types of children caught from one person to another. Counter-balance such as reducing time spent with the affected adult and spending time in more cheerful or normal enviroments made a difference to them.
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        Oct 29 2012: I don't think temporary moods (in response to, say, a tragic or sad event) or temporary delerium ( for example, from fever) and mental illness are the same or that specialists in this field would consider them the same.
        • Oct 29 2012: Diagnostic and statistic manual of mental disorders-DSM. Supposedly a psychiatric bible.
          However I agree that things such as grief are perfectly normal and I think that to fail to have that is abnormal. It is normal to have moods-good times and sad times.

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