Stressful life events and schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia revision
Stressful life events and schizophrenia
A specific stressful event such as the breakup of a marriage or the death of a
loved one is thought to cause schizophrenia. It is possible that high levels of
cortical arousal caused by stress can change neurotransmitter levels leading to
schizophrenic behaviour.
Brown and Birley
Showed that 50% of people experience a stressful life event 3 weeks before a
schizophrenic episode whilst only 12% reported a stressful event 9 weeks before
a schizophrenic episode. This suggests that stressful events can have an immediate
Showed life events have a more cumulative effect. He followed 71 schizophrenics
and recorded stressful events in a 12 month period leading to a relapse. This shows
that small stressful events such as daily hassles can lead to schizophrenia when
they accumulate.
Van Os
Contradicted Hirsch's evidence as he found there was no link between stressful
life events and schizophrenia. This means that we cannot be sure that stress
causes schizophrenia. He actually found that those who suffered major stress were
less likely to become schizophrenic.
The relationship between stress and schizophrenia is only correlational so we
cannot be sure that stress actually causes schizophrenia as we only know there is
some sort of link. The stress of losing a job could be due to the early symptoms of
schizophrenia rather than the actual cause of the disorder.
Social causation
Can lead to schizophrenia as the society we live in can affect our chances of
becoming schizophrenic as it is linked to the levels of stress you experience. If
you live in a lower class society stress will be higher as you will experience more
hardships such as higher crime rates, poor diet, lower wages and lower chances of
employment. This is supported by evidence from Afro-Caribbean's who came to
the UK and lived in lower class housing and so experienced a lower quality of life.

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Schizophrenia revision
It was found that they were 7 times more likely to develop schizophrenia when
they moved to Britain. However it could be that this is due to cultural differences
and diagnosis. This means that social causation may not actually be the cause of
schizophrenia.…read more


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