How do you get schizophrenia? Research into the causes of schizophrenia has shown that like many other mental health disorders, schizophrenia arises from a combination of nature and nurture: environmental factors in conjunction with a genetic predisposition all lead to an increased risk for the development of the condition.
How do you get schizophrenia?
Genetics plays a big part in the occurrence of schizophrenia and when mental illness runs in the family your chances of developing the illness are considerably increased. Anyone with a close relative suffering from a range of mental illness, including depression, bi-polar, and borderline personality disorder, is at high risk of developing schizophrenia during his or her lifetime, but although a genetic predisposition is important, it is not the whole story.
Even when a person is genetically predisposed to developing schizophrenia, environmental factors are still very important and the relationship between nature and nurture is still not really understood, despite a great deal of research into the causes of schizophrenia.
Although a person might have the gene for schizophrenia, many scientists believe that the schizophrenia gene will probably lie dormant unless a specific type of environment kicks the gene into action: a child growing up in a dysfunctional environment, but without the faulty gene, will be 50% likely to develop schizophrenia, whereas a child with the faulty gene growing up in a dysfunctional environment is 100% likely to develop schizophrenia.
Recent scientific studies carried out on children whose mothers had schizophrenia showed that only 6% of the children who were raised in a healthy family environment went on to develop schizophrenia, whereas 37% of those raised in a high risk environment subsequently developed the illness.
What environmental factors increase the risk of developing schizophrenia?
Environmental factors include everything the person experiences from being inside the womb, right the way through childhood and into adulthood.
There are considered to be many pregnancy-related schizophrenia risk factors. High levels of maternal stress can lead to an increased risk of schizophrenia later in life, and this includes bereavement, maternal depression, and any other situation that places the mother under stress. Infections such as rubella and toxoplasmosis caught during pregnancy can also increase the risk factor for schizophrenia. Complications during the birth have also been shown to increase the risk factor for schizophrenia. These include pre-eclampsia and Hypoxia.
The schizophrenia risk factors associated with children and adults are varied. Any child growing up in a dysfunctional family is at a higher risk of developing a mental illness (including schizophrenia), whereas a happy and stable childhood can significantly reduce the chances of developing schizophrenia later in life. In particular, there is a strong link between physical, sexual and emotional abuse during childhood and many serious mental health disorders, including schizophrenia.
Drug use, in particular cannabis, has been shown to significantly increase the chances of developing a mental illness such as schizophrenia. Other schizophrenia risk factors for children and adults include head injuries, social isolation during the formative years of childhood and early adulthood, and social stress.