Most of us familiar with the concept of mental illness know that there have long been debates over whether these disorders are primarily genetic, environmental, or a combination of both.
Researchers at Liverpool and Maastricht University in the Netherlands have brought together and analyzed information from 30 years of studies to try to better understand the link between childhood trauma and the development of psychosis.
Findings suggest that there are both neurological and genetic factors at play, and these recent studies yielded similar conclusions:
Children who had experienced any type of trauma before the age of 16 were approximately three times more likely to become psychotic in adulthood compared to those selected randomly from the population.
The article at Science Daily goes on to suggest that children who had been severely traumatized early on in life were at a greater risk (up to 50% more) than children who were traumatized to a lesser extent.
The study also suggests different types of trauma during childhood can lead to specific sets of symptoms. Childhood sexual abuse was more likely to produce hallucinations later in life, while children brought up in a “children’s home” were more likely to produce paranoia later in life.
“The causes of psychotic disorders, particularly schizophrenia, are a source of controversy amongst psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors. There is also disagreement about how the disorders are defined. It’s not unusual, for example, for a patient to be diagnosed with schizophrenia by one psychiatrist, but as bipolar by another.”
-Professor Richard Bentall, from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society
Now that researchers understand that childhood environment plays a crucial role in the onset of psychosis later on in life, research is going to be geared toward finding out the particulars, and why these events can cause symptoms so much later in life.
There is a bit more on the original article and it is definitely an interesting one I’d recommend. You can read the original article here…