Trauma Linked to Significant, Persistent Psychosis Risk

Individuals diagnosed with traumatic stress disorder have a significant and persistent risk of subsequently developing schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, a large-scale registry study indicates.

Niels Okkels, MD, Department of Affective Disorders, Aarhus University Hospital Risskov, in Denmark, found that there was an eightfold increased risk of developing schizophrenia and a fourfold increased risk for bipolar disorder 5 years after experiencing trauma.

His results also showed that immediately following exposure to trauma, the risk for a psychotic diagnosis was as much as 20-fold higher.

More info here:


When I was hospitalized this psychiatrist conducting a study interviewed me and concluded that the stress triggers for my psychosis were trauma and the innability to deal with the harshness of society.

Can you share the nature of your trauma? What happened?

I was physically and sexually abused by my exboyfriend three years prior to the onset of my psychotic break.

Wow - that sounds very stressful. Sorry to hear it happened.


I’m dealing with it in therapy. Sucks that I can’t hold a relationship now, or even want one, trust issues. But aside from that, I’m stronger now and wouldn’t put myself in that position ever again.

Thank you for your words.


I had trauma just holding down a job in architecture with horrendous debt on my shoulders, life was very hard for me before I got ill. I really had to struggle in college putting myself through college. there is nobody else in my family with schizophrenia and I think I fit into this category. thanks szadmin.

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Well a lot of schizophrenics dont have a trauma they have a very long traumatic list. I’m yet to meet a schizophrenic person who had it easy to start with.

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Trauma causes almost all types of schizophrenia. It’s not genetic there’s no predisposing factor other than nerve stress and damage to molecules and cell communication, so anti psychotics don’t necessarily limit this effect and can also predispose us to more toxicity and stress without the right treatments you won’t recover.

Actually - the schizophrenia experts I talk to say that its both - some people have a genetic or biological predisposition towards mental illness (possibly due to pregnancy issues, genetic susceptibility, etc.) and then other environmental factors - including stress or trauma, brain injury, marijuana / drug use, etc. - tip the person into the mental illness.

The medications help reduce the risk of relapse and help keep the person in a productive direction in life - from what many studies show.


I was told by psych doctors, and I read that you went from a genetic predisposition with no sz symptoms to stress, trauma, etc causing you to snap and bringing on sz. However, it has been consistently talked about on this forum and I have personally seen a prodromal phase where non-psychotic symptoms start slowly coming on (causing additional issues with stress, etc.) and then with extreme stress, trauma, etc., you have the first psychosis. I think a lot of times the genetic predisposition starts rearing it’s head and signs of the beginnings of mental illness show up before the psychotic phase when it’s formally diagnosed. Meds just cover the symptoms at best if you’re lucky.

I guess the perfect storm for developing psychosis would be a high genetic predisposition coupled with(for the individual) a high level of stress.
In my case a rather low genetic predisposition and moderately high stress(bullied for being physically and socially awkward, dysfunctional family) lead to a mild psychotic reaction/psychotic thinking.


Is it possible that the stress is related to radioactive and free radical damage? One guy who studied schizophrenia thought you could cure it through vitamins, like Niacin and B12. If it’s a neuro-degenerative disease than it’s organic and might be factored into recovery ideas. But you can’t deny that schizophrenia exists, and that it manifests. Knowing a solid cause might help people though. Like, I think it’s probably mostly genetic predisposition and then white matter loss, also related to loss of muscle and nerve tissue.

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