Social adversity is considered as a risk factor for psychosis. Evidence for childhood trauma has accumulated recently.Psychological and biological explanations attempt to elucidate the link between life events and psychosis.Threatening and intrusive events can influence how a person appraise the social world and this can lead to hostile perceptions of the external world. Repeated exposures like that may push such ideas to delusional quality. Stress-induced dysregulation of the HPA axis may give rise to increased dopamine receptor densities and dopamine release.
Stephanie Beards, Charlotte Gayer-anderson, Susana Borges, Michael E. Dewey, Helen L. Fisher, and Craig Morgan report the results of a meta- analysis of the evidence for association between life events and psychosis in adult life.
Within the clinical studies, cases with psychosis were 6 to 8 times more likely to report life events com- pared with controls in the period leading up to onset where as this was 2-7 times among general population studies.
Timing- life events may exert their influence over a longer period. Studies also show that independent events (ie events not influenced by possible mental state alterations, e.g.: death of a relative) are increased showing possible causal relationship.
The meta-analysis of a subset of 13 studies showed that psychotic disorder/experiences are roughly 3 times more likely among those exposed to recent life events than controls.
Conclusions: Literature ( adult life events and psychosis) is small. There is a 3-fold increased odds of life events in the period prior to psychosis onset. Intrusive events may be particularly important.
Summary of the article:
Beards S, Gayer-Anderson C, Borges S, Dewey ME, Fisher HL, Morgan C. Schizophr Bull. 2013 Jul;39(4):740-7.