Stressful life events and schizophrenia

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Psychology unit 4 schizophrenia
Stressful life events and schizophrenia
A specific stressful event such as the death of a loved one is thought to be a cause
of schizophrenia. It is possible that high levels of cortical arousal in connection
with neurotransmitters can lead to changes.
Brown and Birley showed that 50% of people experienced a stressful event
3 weeks before a schizophrenic episode whilst 12% reported a stressful
event 9 weeks before a schizophrenic episode. This suggests that stress can
have an immediate effect on schizophrenia.
Hirsch showed life events have more of a cumulative effect. He followed 71
schizophrenics and recorded stressful events in a 12 month period and
found they built up to a relapse. This shows that small stressful events such
as daily hassles can lead to schizophrenia when they accumulate.
Van Os found no link between stress and schizophrenia. This means we
cannot be sure that stress causes schizophrenia. He actually found that
those who suffered a major stressful event were less likely to be
Correlational relationship between stress and schizophrenia so the stress of
a loss of a job could be due to the early symptoms of schizophrenia and so
the stress many not be the actual cause of the disorder.
Social causation can lead to higher rates of schizophrenia as the society you
live in can affect the levels of stress you experience. For example, lower
class people have higher stress due to higher crime rates, low employment
rates and poor diets. This is supported by evidence from Afro-Caribbean's
who live in low class housing and have a low quality of life. It was found
that they were 7 times more likely to be schizophrenic when they moved to
Britain. However the higher rates of schizophrenia in Britain could be due
to the cultural differences in diagnosis so social causation may not be the
cause of this trend.


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