Mental Illness Law and Legal Definition

Mental illness is a term used for a variety of disorders causing severe disturbances in thinking, feeling and relating to others. Persons suffering from mental illness have a substantially diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Mental illness can affect people of any age and background. Several million people in this country suffer from serious long term mental illnesses.

Many causes of mental illness are not fully understood, however, medications and or psychotherapy may be helpful to treat the symptoms in some cases. Mental illnesses may be caused by biological, genetic, environmental and family factors. For example, child abuse has been linked to Borderline Personality Disorder and Dissociative Disorders, for example. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder which is caused by a trauma in the environment. Recent research suggests that exposure to trauma can actually change the way that the brain develops.