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Is Schizophrenia Triggered By Trauma

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What Treatment Should The Nhs Offer Me

Is Psychosis Meaningful? Trauma, Dissociation and Schizophrenia – Part II

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommend that you should be offered antipsychotic medication and talking therapy if you experience psychosis. If you decide not to take medication you should still be offered talking therapy.

NICE produce guidelines for how health professionals should treat certain conditions. You can download these from their website at

Your GP may refer you to a specialist mental health team such as the early intervention team , community mental health team , or crisis team.


Antipsychotic medication can help with psychosis. Your doctor should give you information about antipsychotics including side effects. You and your doctor should choose the medication together.

Some people find they do not start to recover until they get the right medication. It is important to take the medication every day to help your symptoms.

Try not to be too upset if the first antipsychotic that you try doesnt help. There are lots of different antipsychotics to try because people respond better to different medications. Some may not improve your symptoms and may cause side effects.

You can discuss your medication with your doctor if your medication is not working. Or you are finding the side effects hard to deal with. There might be another medication that will suit you better.

There is a high risk of relapse if you stop taking medication within the first 1 to 2 years, following your first episode of psychosis.

Talking therapies

Effects Of Childhood Maltreatment On Epigenetic Processes

In addition to effects on the hormone system, environmental factors, such as childhood trauma, may contribute to genomeenvironment interactions these interactions are mediated by epigenetic processes, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications . Hypomethylation of DNA repetitive sequences has been detected in first-episode schizophrenia patients with a history of childhood trauma . Inhibitors of histone deacetylases have been suggested to improve cognitive function and ameliorate disorder pathogenesis in neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia . In schizophrenia patients, we found that the experience of childhood trauma was related to increased HDAC1 levels in blood samples . This corresponds with recent findings that HDAC1 levels are increased in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of patients with schizophrenia . Interestingly, in mice with early life stress as a model of childhood trauma HDAC1 expression is increased in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, and these mice display schizophrenia-like behavioral phenotypes, such as deficits in PPI, working memory, and synaptic plasticity . The effects of childhood trauma on epigenetic mechanisms and the relationship with cognition and disorder symptoms should be investigated in more detail in larger studies in schizophrenia patients.

Tools To Assess Childhood Trauma

In the field of childhood trauma research, it is not uncommon to investigate early stress by clinically assessing whether some form of maltreatment took place in the individuals childhood without applying standardized trauma or maltreatment questionnaires . However, in the context of clinical studies and to further both the validity and the reliability of the observed effects in childhood trauma studies, standardized instruments should be used. Below, we present a representative selection of the most commonly used questionnaires because it would be beyond the scope of this article to include all the available ones.

With regards to semi-structured interviews, two more questionnaires are of interest because they both have specific advantages and can be useful in clinical studies: The Early Trauma Inventory and the Childrens Life Events Scale . The former instrument is a semi-structured interview that assesses four domains of traumatic experiences and then addresses the most serious trauma in an additional question . This additional question can be very useful in clinical settings because of the potential need for an extended conversation about the most burdensome issue. The CLES, which is an expansion of The Source of Stress Inventory , is a checklist composed of 50 moderate-to-major stressful childhood events that covers categories such as negative emotional feedback, family deaths, maltreatment, failure in school, and family dysfunction .

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Information For Carers Friends And Relatives

It can be very distressing if you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who experiences psychosis. You can get support.

How can I get support for myself?

You can do the following.

  • Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
  • Speak to your relatives care team about family intervention. For more information about family intervention see the previous section above on this page.
  • Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
  • Ask for a carers assessment.
  • Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
  • Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.

What is a carers assessment?NICE guidelines state that you should be given your own assessment through the community mental health team to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.

The CMHT or the early intervention in psychosis team should tell you about your right to have a carers assessment through your local authority. To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.

How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 800 0525. They will search for you.

How can I support the person I care for?

You can do the following.

Tbi And Schizophrenia: A Recent Study

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New research discovered a link between traumatic brain injury and schizophrenia. There didnt seem to be a dose-response association between the severity of a head injury and the chance of developing schizophrenia later on .

The research found evidence to back up the idea that a traumatic brain injury might raise the likelihood of developing schizophrenia. In fact, according to another research, persons who have had a traumatic brain injury are 1.6 times more likely to develop schizophrenia compared to those who have not.

The researchers found that a brain injury may draw on and destroy neuronal connections, which can have genuine biological implications, the researchers found.

Suppose you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to someone elses carelessness, and you feel that person is developing schizophrenia due to the damage. In that case, you should speak with a certified Colorado attorney.

Once your doctor has given you an initial diagnosis and prognosis for recovery, you should speak with an expert traumatic brain injury lawyer to see whether someone elses carelessness caused the damage, whether it happened in a car or motorcycle accident or at a sports event.

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How Does Schizophrenia Start

The exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop the condition. Some people may be prone to schizophrenia, and a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode.

Psychotic Symptoms In Ptsd

Researchers at the University of Manitoba, Columbia University, and the University of Regina examined data on 5,877 people from across the United States with the goal of determining the rates with which people with PTSD experience different psychotic symptoms.

The researchers found that the experience of positive psychotic symptoms was most common among people with PTSD. Approximately 52% of people who reported having PTSD at some point in their lifetime also reported experiencing a positive psychotic symptom.

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Factors That Facilitate Or Hinder Talking About Trauma

Of the many factors that played a role in participants willingness to talk about trauma, having people in their life that were trusted and considered willing to listen, played the most important role in terms of disclosure. Participants who had the opportunity to discuss trauma usually confided in family and support groups or tried to approach a professional. Disclosure to family and support groups was facilitated by perceiving a safe environment and being around someone trustworthy or who had been through similar events. Discussing trauma was also facilitated by having a supportive professional, who participants described as a person who is kind, patient and interested, who asks questions without being perceived as judgemental. Sylvia describes which characteristics in a professional facilitate trauma disclosure:

I think the good ones are kind. I think they take the time to understand what you are saying, and they dont rush you and they just try and- personally I like when people ask me questions because I can go on- so I feel like when they ask you questions they are trying to understand, they are trying to make the effort. My new CPN is lovely, because she doesnt make it feel like I am a burden.

I think I said to you, when I was trying to tell me mum about the sexual assault I said, I told her about the worst bit, and she came down and kicked the Jesus out of us.

The Relationship Between Ptsd And Psychosis

Is Psychosis Meaningful? Trauma, Dissociation and Schizophrenia – Part I

Frank van Groen / LOOK-foto / Getty Images

Mental health experts describe post-traumatic stress disorder as consisting of four clusters of symptoms: re-experiencing symptoms, avoidance symptoms, negative changes in mood and brain function, and hyperarousal symptoms.

However, some mental health professionals believe that the experience of psychotic symptoms should be considered as an addition to that list. Symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations, often occur with symptoms of PTSD.

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Can Schizophrenia Be Caused By Trauma

While the jury is still out on whether trauma directly causes schizophrenia, according to research conducted by the University of Liverpool, children who experienced trauma before the age of 16 were about three times more likely to become psychotic in adulthood than those who were randomly selected. The more severe the trauma, the greater the likelihood of developing illness in later life. They even found indications that the type of trauma experienced may determine what specific psychotic symptoms will manifest themselves later on.

It is also certainly true that trauma which occurs after the onset of schizophrenia can exacerbate psychotic symptomsespecially if it leads to the development of a co-occurring trauma disorder, such as PTSD. Separately, these conditions can pose serious challenges to a persons ability to live a normal lifetogether, they can become overwhelming and debilitating without proper care and support.

If your loved one is struggling with the double burden of concurrent schizophrenia and trauma, know that there is help available to help them cope with both. Though their traumatic past cannot be erasedand no cure for schizophrenia currently existsthrough proper treatment they can begin to heal and regain clarity and stability in order to lead a fuller, more independent life.

Begin Your Recovery Journey Today.

What Can Trigger Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia usually shows its first signs in men in their late teens or early 20s and women in their early 20s and 30s. Its rare before adolescence. Men and women are equally affected. The period between when symptoms first start and before full psychosis is called the prodromal period. It may last for days to years and be difficult to identify because theres usually no specific identifiable trigger.

Though the exact triggers and causes of schizophrenia arent known, several risk factors can contribute to schizophrenia, including

  • Genetics : Positive family history increases the risk.
  • Brain chemistry and circuits: People with schizophrenia may not be able to regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that control certain pathways or “circuits” of nerve cells that affect thinking and behavior.
  • Brain abnormality: Abnormalities in the brain structure may increase risk.
  • Environment: Environmental factors like infections, exposure to toxins, drug abuse, and severe stress increase risk.

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Lack Of Specificity Of Findings For Schizophrenia

It must be noted that effects of childhood trauma are not specific for schizophrenia. In childhood-maltreatment related post-traumatic stress disorder , a recent meta-analysis clearly showed bilateral reduction of hippocampal and amygdala volumes in the PTSD group compared to healthy controls . In addition, cognitive deficits in different domains such as general intelligence, language, information processing, learning and memory and executive skills have been observed in trauma-exposed children with PTSD compared to controls. Trauma-exposed children with PTSD had poorer general intelligence and visuospatial skills compared with trauma-exposed children who did not develop PTSD . Dysfunction of the HPA axis in PTSD has been reported, particularly hypersensitivity of the glucocorticoid receptor . Single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the GR and FKBP5 gene were associated with PTSD risk and the FKBP5 gene SNP interacted with childhood adversity to moderate PTSD risk . Other neurochemical markers for PTSD include neurotrophic factors such as BDNF . Regarding epigenetic factors, DNA methylation is so far the best studied in PTSD and could be responsible for long-lasting effects of geneenvironmental interactions . Furthermore, effects of parental trauma could be transmitted to the next generation by epigenetic marks .

Differences In Brain Chemistry

What Is Schizophrenia?

Studies show that people can be more likely to experience schizophrenia if their brain development was disrupted during pregnancy or early childhood. Changes in brain structure do not appear in everyone with schizophrenia though.

Some chemicals also seem to behave differently in the brains of people who experience schizophrenia. These chemicals are thought to include dopamine, which helps to carry messages between brain cells.

Some research suggests that an imbalance between certain neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, may be one of the causes behind schizophrenia.

Antipsychotics, which are sometimes used to treat schizophrenia, can help to lower dopamine levels.

For more information see our pages on antipsychotics.

More recently my physical health has deteriorated. I have become more agoraphobic and find group settings harder than before.

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Neurobiological Effects Of Stress

Stress sensitization may play a role in schizophrenia by lowering the vulnerability threshold for the disorder. The neurobiological consequence of stress sensitization involves dysregulation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is the major stress neuroendocrine system of the body and is involved in the production of the stress hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands . A stress-induced activation of the HPA axis contributes to dopamine sensitization in mesolimbic areas and increases stress-induced striatal dopamine release . These effects are important because increased dopamine neurotransmission with overstimulation of the D2 receptors in several brain regions has been hypothesized in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, a hypothesis that is supported by the antipsychotic effects of dopamine receptor antagonists .

The Relationship Between Teen Ptsd And Psychosis

Post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis often go hand in hand. PTSD can involve psychosishallucinations, delusions, and the negative symptoms like flat affect and emotional in-expression. The symptoms for both PTSD and psychosis can thus overlap.

In one study of almost 6000 people in the U.S. more than half of the participants who had PTSD also reported experiencing a psychotic symptom. The most common symptom was the delusion that other people were spying on them. Almost 30% of participants felt that they were being followed by others.

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Hope Springs From Meaning

Jim van Os, in his TED x talk, spoke of the need for us to give people who are being given diagnoses of psychosis a perspective of hope and the possibility of change . This is the opposite of how many professionals are looking at psychoses. The population attributable risk for psychosis has been calculated as 33% for people who have experienced six childhood adversities while under the age of 5 years . This means that from a primary prevention perspective, if we can eliminate those six childhood adversities, we would reduce the incidence of psychosis by one third. By acknowledging the link between trauma and psychosis, we also naturally come to examine treatment, and where better to look than among the psychotherapies with a trauma-based formulation and a trauma-focused methodology of therapeutic intervention? Researchers exploring EMDR therapy in patients with psychosis have found that it is safe and efficacious in these people . As clinicians and researchers who are working with people who are experiencing psychotic disorders, it is very important that we have a high index of suspicion for the presence of early adverse life events. Our assessers need to form a strong therapeutic rapport, listen well, and gather information in a comprehensive manner, from a position of therapeutic neutrality. Our journey continues.

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The Connection Between Teen Trauma And Psychosis

Is It PTSD or Schizophrenia? Post Traumatic Psychosis -Psychotherapy Crash Course

According to NAMI, any traumatic event can trigger a psychotic episode. Car accidents. War. Violent assaults. Terrorism. Physical abuse. Sexual abuse or extreme neglect. However, certain events are more highly linked to psychosis. Experiencing a natural disaster and seeing someone killed or injured are both traumas that have been shown to induce psychosis in many people.

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Relationship Between Trauma And Psychosis

While almost all participants agreed that trauma impacted their whole life and that they were largely still affected by it, they had different thoughts around how it influenced their current mental health. While a few participants were unsure, many believed that trauma was the cause of their psychotic symptoms and psychosis-related diagnosis, and that if they had had the chance to discuss trauma earlier this could have prevented their current condition. One participant thought that professionals diagnosed them with psychosis only because they did not believe their trauma disclosure, and they were convinced that their life would have been much better if only they had received help when they were looking for it. Participants mental health slowly or suddenly deteriorated as a direct consequence of trauma, or as a result of ignoring the event and its effects for too long. Symon explains how having the chance to discuss trauma when it first happened, could have prevented their current mental health status:

I think the best time was in 1992 when it first happened. If I wouldve had someone to speak to then, perhaps I wouldnt have the- I wouldnt have the psychological damage.

Every tiny little thing that I did I- Id phone my husband when he was at work like- Id spill, do you know the tipp-ex, that white thing that you take the pen off and Id start panicking.

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