Physical Causes of Mental Illness

Reader Contribution by Jaime A. Heidel
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According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental illness affects 26.2 percent of the United States adult population. Children with mental illness cover 20 percent of the population while teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 have a lifetime prevalence of mental illness that stands at a staggering 46.3 percent!

Research has shown that mental illness disability rates have increased six-fold since the mid-1950s. In 1987, Prozac and other psychiatric drugs hit the market and have been soaring in use and profit for nearly 30 years.

The cause of the sudden rise in mental illness has been attributed to everything from more accurate diagnosis to the rise in crime rate.

Whatever the cause, many patients who see psychiatrists for treatment are given psychiatric drugs to suppress their symptoms without getting to the root cause of the problem.

There are 5 common causes of the symptoms of mental illness that should be looked into before psychiatric medication is prescribed.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Poor diet, overuse of antibiotics, low stomach acid, and poor soil quality all contribute to widespread vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin D3 deficiency affects millions of people and can contribute to severe depression and anxiety. Magnesium deficiency also heavily contributes to anxiety, depression, and insomnia, which can lead to psychosis.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can often be mistaken for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. According to a published case report, large numbers of psychiatric patients often have abnormally low B12 levels. Men with a deficiency in the essential mineral zinc often have low testosterone levels, which can lead to irritability, mood swings, depression, and anxiety.

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. It is estimated that 1 in 88 people are unable to successfully digest this protein. In addition to chronic digestive problems, gluten intolerance can also lead to psychiatric symptoms including depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and psychosis.

Gluten acts as neurotoxin to the intolerant person, which destroys brain cells and leads to the symptoms of mental illness. Gluten intolerance can also lead to a condition called leaky gut syndrome, where the lining of the intestines are more porous than they should be.

This causes undigested food particles, toxins, and yeast to leak into the bloodstream, leading to multiple food and chemical intolerance and symptoms of mental illness.

Thyroid Disease

Another commonly overlooked physical cause of mental illness is thyroid disease. When the thyroid makes too little or too much of the thyroid hormone, a host of physical and mental symptoms can result. Depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability are the most common mental symptoms associated with thyroid disorder.

Oftentimes, it can be difficult to pin down thyroid disease as the symptoms are so varied and widespread. Anyone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness should have their thyroid checked to rule out this common condition.

Chronic Candida Syndrome

Candida is a type of yeast found in small quantities in the digestive tract and genitals. Overuse of antibiotics and a diet high in refined flour and sugar feeds this yeast and can cause it to overgrow.

When yeast become systemic, it ends up in the bloodstream, where it slowly infects the entire body. This leads to a host of mental and physical symptoms that often baffle doctors and leads to inaccurate diagnosis.

Some of these symptoms include excessive fatigue, chronic headaches, irritability, mood swings, impaired concentration, depression, PMS, cognitive impairment, chronic pain, and digestive malfunction.


This physical cause of mental illness can be another one that’s quite difficult to pin down because it has so many symptoms associated with it. Mercury is an amalgam most often found in vaccines, dental fillings, and fish. Neurological symptoms of mercury poisoning include brain fog, memory loss, twitching, vertigo, and fatigue. Fecal cultures and urine samples can determine if mercury toxicity is causing the symptoms of mental illness.

Some mental health professionals seem too quick to prescribe a psychiatric medication at the first sign of depression, anxiety, OCD or psychosis. This quick-fix attempt may stop the symptoms but it won’t get to the root cause of the problem.

The best way to heal psychiatric problems is to clean up your diet, eliminate toxins from your home, decrease your stress, increase your exercise, and sleep well. It is critical to rule out the physical causes of mental illness before becoming dependent on prescription drugs long-term.

Once you take control of your mental health by ruling out physical cause, you’ll be amazed at how much healthier and calmer you’ll feel.

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