Week 9 of learning neuroscience: mental illness

This week’s topic was mental illness and disorders of the brain. There are two ways of approaching harm caused by mental illness. On one hand it causes huge monetary costs to society. On the other hand, every case of mental disorder is causing harm to an individual and people close to them. Both are relevant reasons to seek cures to mental illnesses and research treatments to them.

There are two ways of approaching treating mental illnesses: psychosocial and biological approach. Biological treatments function of the brain is directly affected by drugs that can inhibit or excite different synapses. In time the brain will change towards the wanted behaviour. In psychosocial approach behavioural treatments such as different therapies are used to strengthen the wanted and weaken the unwanted behaviours. In the end both methods cause the brain to change through natural neuroplasticity and best results are often obtained with a combination of these methods.

We learned more closely about anxiety and depression. It is interesting how mechanisms of anxiety are quite well known, but the biological causes and effects of depression seem to be vague theories. One is more likely to suffer from depression due to genetic disposition and hard childhood, but how are these causes stored in the brain, what triggers them to cause depression and in what ways does the brain express depression biologically? There are many questions and much to learn.

Posted by Jaakko Salmenkylä

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