The Association Between Risk Taking Behaviors and Mental Health

July 3, 2018 Off By Tyrone Miles

Risk taking has been shown to have a link on the image of a person. People who are said to be more athletic, energetic, and robust are those who engage in more risk-taking activities. But then, up until now, there is still some debate regarding the association between risk taking behaviors and mental health. For instance, a person who performs scuba diving activities and does bungee jumping is already careful about his or her health, no matter what risks he or she will be taking when doing adventure sports. In addition, someone who constantly smokes weed and sits on the couch looking through different TV channels is never going to participate in activities that are linked to danger, adventure, or thrill.

Labeling the people in the abovementioned examples as risk takers is never ideal. Even so, they can view themselves whatever they please. With the fact that people who smoke or consume alcohol or do drugs regularly could have begun the habit at a young age, despite being aware of the risks that come with them, they could still be right all along.

There have been unexpected findings that have been found based on a new research study that was done on genetic data. Throughout the entire duration of the research study, the participants were made to assess themselves by asking one question: would you think of yourself as someone who takes risks?

The study has found some genetic correlations between risk taking activities and smoking, obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.

Digging deeper on the findings of the studies, it was shown that those people who considered themselves risk takers were more of males and those with higher BMIs. From this study, findings have shown that those who have assessed themselves as being risk takers have likely experienced being high or smoking during the early days of their lives with their peers in comparison to those who have assessed themselves as being non-risk takers. Women, on the other hand, who have claimed to be risk takers are usually the ones who had bore children at a younger age in comparison to the others. Such a study has also found a positive association between risk taking and depressive disorders.

What do all these findings imply then?
Since the early years of life, children are taught which ones are bad for them and which ones are good for them. As they grow older, they make choices by instinct based on the things that were taught to them and what they have learned from the environment and then they made sure to behave accordingly. Basically, they learn to reason, that is, they practice some restraint instead of driving a car at breakneck speed or smoking a joint that they can easily access.

When it comes to people suffering from mental conditions, acting on impulse still remains even when they are no longer at a young age. They have difficulties exercising restraint. This impulsivity is seen among people suffering from different mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and so on. For instance, teens who are suffering from a major depressive disorder are more likely to engage in risk taking behaviors such as doing drugs, drinking alcohol, or engaging in sex with more than just one partner.