Schizophrenia and childhood trauma may be connected
A recent study suggests that children who have experienced significant trauma are three times more likely to develop schizophrenia later in life. And the greater the trauma experienced as a child, the greater the chance of developing a mental illness as an adult.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool used data collected over 30 years from 27,000 research papers. The data examined how people who experienced trauma as children progressed as adults. They also looked at interviews with adult psychotic patients about their childhood.
“The causes of psychotic disorders—particularly schizophrenia—are a source of controversy amongst psychiatrists, psychologists, and doctors,” said Richard Bentall, co-author of the study. “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.”
There has been a long standing debate about mental illnesses and whether they are caused solely by genetic factors, or if environmental factors also contribute to their development.
Researchers noted that the most recent studies on psychotic disorders usually look at genetic and biological factors. However this new evidence shows that psychotic disorders cannot be fully understood by only looking at biology and genetics.
“Our findings suggest that studies on the neurological and genetic factors associated with these conditions, which are not yet fully understood, are more likely to advance our knowledge if we take into account a patient’s life experiences,” Bentall said
The study now shows that environmental factors play a major role in psychosis, revealing a direct link between life experiences and symptoms of the illness. Patients should be routinely questioned by psychiatrists about their childhood and life experiences.
“Surprisingly, some psychiatric teams do not address these issues and only focus on treating a patient with medication,” Bentall said.
Source—The Toronto Sun