Diathesis Stress Theory


No one knows exactly what causes schizophrenia, and there are a number of existing theories seeking to explain the origins of the disease. The diathesis-stress theory is one well-established explanation for schizophrenia, proposing that schizophrenia is the result of a combination of environmental and biological/genetic factors. According to this theory, schizophrenia symptoms are triggered or worsened when environmental stressors (stress) act upon a biological vulnerability (diathesis) to the disease.

The diathesis-stress theory of schizophrenia has led to a great deal of research on common stressors among schizophrenics and ways to manage and minimize their effects. According to the theory, there are many different types of stressors--such as biological, social, and psychological--that may precipitate the development of schizophrenia. One example of research based on the diathesis-stress theory is the recent research study that found that stress may be why city dwellers are at an increased risk for schizophrenia.

The diathesis-stress theory just one theory about the cause of schizophrenia, but there is scientific support for it. Studies have shown that schizophrenia has a genetic or hereditary component, and the presence or absence of certain life stressors could explain why not all people who are genetically vulnerably go on to develop the disease.