Mental Health is Biological Health

“Scientists understand little about the etiology of mental disorders, however, and many of the most popular psychopharmacological treatments, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, have only moderate‐to‐weak efficacy in treating symptoms and fail to target biological systems that correspond to discrete psychiatric syndromes.” from Mental Health is Biological Health: Why tackling “diseases of the mind” is an imperative for biological anthropology in the 21st century.

Kristen L. SymeEdward H. HagenFirst published: 24 November 2019 

American Journal of Physical Anthropology


The authors of this study mentions the rise in numbers of severe mental illnesses. They discuss increased societal stress as one of the factors. However, correlation does not imply causation. We are reminded by this excellent statistics article,

Correlation tests for a relationship between two variables. However, seeing two variables moving together does not necessarily mean we know whether one variable causes the other to occur. This is why we commonly say “correlation does not imply causation.”

“A strong correlation might indicate causality, but there could easily be other explanations:

  • It may be the result of random chance, where the variables appear to be related, but there is no true underlying relationship.
  • There may be a third, lurking variable that that makes the relationship appear stronger (or weaker) than it actually is.

For observational data, correlations can’t confirm causation…

…but with well-designed empirical research, we can establish causation!”

This is why we must try to reproduce Kraepelin’s experimental results to see if his hypothesis of abnormal PCO2 due to respiratory breathing defects is indeed relevant to attacks and treatment of manic depressive insanity. The explanation for the increase in serious mental illness could easily be explained by the increased numbers of babies, children, adults, elderly adults, etc…who are saved by our life saving treatments; this might mean that there are more people who survive after car accidents, sports injuries, near death experiences, choking, violent beatings, near fatal illness, etc., . Injuries to throats and torso’s occur all the time and sometimes, there is hidden damage hampering the motor act of moving air in and out of the body. Hence more risk of hypercapnia and periods of mental confusion hence the appearance of more mental illness or [unrecognized PCO2 irregularities].

“For observational data, correlations can’t confirm causation…but with well-designed empirical research, we can establish causation!”

We need more research on breathing, breathing rates at rest, PCO2 abnormalities and attacks of altered mental status in order to see if we need to approach bipolar illness from a different and new perspective .

That is the strength of the scientific method! Replication of results!!!

Thanks for the lesson.


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