Mental Illnesses | What Can Go Wrong With The Brain?

Mental illnesses. One unfortunate consequence of the brain’s complexity is that so many different things can go wrong with it. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), for example, researches over 600 different neurologic diseases. There are several more common types of brain disorder.

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brain trauma

Brain Trauma

Brain trauma may be caused by a number of things, including:

  • motor vehicle crashes
  • sports accidents
  • falls
  • firearms
  • being struck by an object


It usually happens suddenly and requires immediate treatment. A concussion, for example, is a sharp blow to the head that causes the brain to collide against the inside of the skull. Symptoms usually last for a few days and up to two week and can include:

  • drowsiness
  • severe headache
  • confusion
  • memory loss
  • nausea

Anyone who suffers a blow to the head needs to seek medical attention, even if they feel fine. There could be bleeding in the brain that may be fatal if not detected right away. More severe cases of traumatic brain injuries can lead to an extended period of unconsciousness (coma), or even death.

Brain aneurysm


A brain aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery in the brain. Common symptoms include:

  • pain behind the eyes
  • numbness or weakness in the face
  • double or blurry vision

If untreated, an aneurysm can rupture and cause a sudden, extremely severe headache or death. A ruptured aneurysm is a severe medical emergency.


A stroke is an interruption of blood flow to part of the brain caused by bleeding in the brain or by a blood clot clogging an artery. Stroke symptoms come on suddenly and may include:

  • confusion
  • trouble speaking
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • numbness or weakness on one side of the body

If you experience symptoms of a stroke, it’s essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can save areas of brain from permanent damage.

Brain stroke

Degenerative Brain Diseases

Degenerative brain diseases cause progressive damage to the parts of the brain that control cognition, emotion, and mobility. The damage tends to accumulate and increase over a long period of time.

The most common form of degenerative brain disease is dementia. People with dementia undergo a gradual loss of intellectual and cognitive abilities over time, but this typically doesn’t start until after age 60. The initial signs and symptoms of dementia may be subtle but can progress from lapses in memory to include:

  • trouble dealing with numbers and directions
  • difficulty speaking and understanding language
  • personality changes
  • an inability to perform even basic tasks

brain alzheimer

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Despite this, the exact cause is still unknown. Genetics is thought to play a role. Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia typically occur in older individuals. The risk increases as you age.
If you are concerned that a member of your family is beginning to show signs of dementia, it’s important to talk to a doctor. Several basic tests can help your doctor determine whether any of the symptoms are reversible and how to support the patient as they begin to deal with any new diagnosis.

Brain Epilepsy


Epilepsy is a disease that causes abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. The main symptom of epilepsy is repeated seizures, which are episodes of disturbed brain function. A seizure can manifest as one or more of the following symptoms:

  • temporarily altered perception of sounds, smells, sights, and tastes
  • uncontrollable jerking of the muscles
  • staring or repeated motions
  • complete loss of consciousness

Diseases associated with the development of PFC (The prefrontal cortex) – Mental illness

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is part of the frontal lobes lying just behind the forehead and is one of the most important areas in the brain. This brain region is responsible for executive functions, which include mediating conflicting thoughts, making choices (between right and wrong or good and bad), predicting future events, and governing social and emotional control. All of the senses feed information to the PFC, which combines this information to form useful judgements.

What is a mental disorder?

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health disorders that affect people’s mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include schizophrenia, ADHD, depression, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. As repeatedly discussed above, the PFC plays a critical role in cognitive functions and cortical inhibition, especially for insight, judgment, the ability to inhibit inappropriate responses, and the ability to plan and organize for future events. Therefore, PFC dysfunction is greatly associated with disorders/deficits in cognitive and executive functions that are seen in most mental illnesses.

Many people have mental health concerns from time to time, but this only becomes a mental illness when clear signs and symptoms cause severe stress and affect people’s ability to function properly. A mental illness can make people miserable and can cause problems in daily life, such as at work or in personal relationships. Signs and symptoms of mental illness vary, depending on the particular disorder. In most cases, mental illness symptoms can be managed with a combination of medications and counseling such as psychotherapy. Most major or serious mental illnesses tend to have symptoms that come and go, with periods in between when the person can lead a relatively normal life, i.e., episodic illness. The most common serious mental disorders are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.

Although the exact cause of most mental illnesses is unknown, it is becoming clear that many of these conditions are caused by a combination of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors.

1. Genetics: Many mental illnesses have family histories, suggesting that the illnesses may be passed on from parents to children through specific genes. Many mental illnesses are linked to multiple problem genes that are still largely unknown. The disorder occurs from the interaction of these genes and other factors, such as psychological trauma and environmental stressors – which can influence or trigger the illness in a person who has inherited a susceptibility to the disease.

2. Biology: Mental illnesses have been linked to an abnormal balance of neurotransmitters, mis-wired neuronal connections in the network, and disrupted communications between neurons within the brain. When neuronal signals cannot be properly transmitted within the brain, particularly within the brain region such as PFC, signs and symptoms of a mental disorder will emerge.

3. Psychological trauma: Some mental illnesses may be triggered by psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as severe emotional, physical or sexual abuse, etc.

4. Environmental stressors or risk factors: Certain stressors or risk factors – such as a brain injury, dysfunctional family life, substance abuse, or a life threatening event – can trigger a disorder in a person who may be at risk for developing a mental illness.

Brain Commissural Anomalies

The human brain commissures include the corpus callosum (neocortical), the anterior commissure (paleocortical), the fornix (archicortical) [ the hippocampal commissure (also called commissure of psalterium Davidi or David’s. It has already been accepted that the commissural fibers are important for transfer of complex cognitive information between the brain hemispheres and coordinated transfer of information is essential for the cerebral functions. In normal condition, commissural fibers must be actively guided across the midline to reach their targets in the contralateral hemisphere. Mental illnesses. When the underlying mechanisms regulating the guidance of commissural fibers fail, pathological dysgenesis of one or more commissures ensues. It is suggested that a complex set of cellular and molecular mechanisms regulate commissural development.

Malformation of the corpus callosum is a various condition, which can be observed either as isolated form or as one manifestation in the context of congenital syndromes. Based on survey of 596 network families, the most frequently clinical findings reported about agenesis of the corpus callosum are developmental delay, visual problems, language delay, seizures, and muscle- tone issues. Furthermore, agenesis of the corpus callosum results in disabilities in social cognition that appears to be secondary to deficits in complex cognitive operations such as reasoning, concept formation, and problem solving.

The brain can also be affected by tumors, bacterial and viral infections, genetic diseases, metabolic conditions, and a number of other developmental disorders and conditions.

How Can You Keep Your Brain Healthy?

Like other parts of the body, your brain may lose some agility as you get older. Some brain conditions, like Alzheimer’s disease, may not be preventable. There are many things you can do now to help keep your brain healthier as you age. You can take certain precautions to reduce the risk of certain types of dementia or brain trauma, or delay the onset of dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association and the Brain Foundation offer the following tips on keeping your brain healthy.

  • Stay physically active and exercise to promote blood flow to the brain.
  • Engage in mentally stimulating activities throughout life, like doing puzzles, memory games, or learning a new language.
  • Reduce stress and depression. Regular exercise can help with this.
  • Eat a healthy, low-fat, low-cholesterol diet that is rich in dark vegetables, fruits, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in certain fish and nuts, may also help lower your risk of dementia.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorcycle to prevent a brain injury if you fall or get into an accident.
  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving.
  • Treat any head injury seriously.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Get regular checkups from your doctor.