|   Answering your mental health questions

How Can I Prevent Mental Illness?

With increasing public awareness of how common mental illness is, and with ever-increasing medical evidence of the degree to which people can influence their own health, many people are interested in mental illness prevention.

Unfortunately, given that one of the most likely causes of several types of mental disorder is a chemical imbalance in the brain, there is currently no foolproof way of preventing mental illness. However, experts believe that mental illness is the result of a combination of factors, so there are still important preventative steps you can take to minimize your risk of developing a mental disorder; namely, by properly caring for your mental and physical health.

Good Health for Good Mental Health

Lifestyle factors can affect your risk of suffering from a mental illness. Habits you can undertake that will go a long way toward helping you avoid mental illness include:

Did You Know?

Mental illness prevention doesn’t just mean keeping it from happening altogether; it also refers to the goal of treating someone’s mental illness symptoms in the early stages so that their condition doesn’t become debilitating or life threatening. Therefore, knowing common warning signs of mental illness and getting help when you recognize them are also essential in the overall goal of prevention.

  • Manage your stress. Chronic stress can be a huge contributing factor in the development of both mental and physical illness. If you can’t make changes to reduce the amount of stress in your life, then implement effective strategies for dealing with it, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and aerobic exercise.
  • Exercise your body. Regular exercise might not prevent clinical depression or anxiety disorders, but its positive effects on the symptoms of these mental illnesses, likely due to the release of endorphins, can contribute to preventing them from becoming debilitating.
  • Exercise your brain. Challenging your mind with things like logic puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku and even video games that require eye-hand coordination has been shown to help prevent mental deterioration that occurs with age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Eat well. It’s no secret that proper nutrition is important for your health in general, but studies have found potential links between certain nutrients and mental illnesses; for example, depressed people are often deficient in vitamin B­­12 and folate.
  • Get enough sleep. Like regular exercise and good nutrition, enough and good-quality sleep is essential if you want to be as healthy as you can and do your best to avoid mental health problems.
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