Biological Trajectory for Psychosocial Risk Factors in Psychiatric Disorders—A Concept Based Review


Current understanding of mental disorders is based upon “biopsychosocial model”. Research also suggests what biological changes take place in a particular disorder as well as nature of risk which arises from psychological, social and environmental conditions. However it remains unclear how these psychosocial and environmental risk factors interact with biological factors which lead to clinical syndromes. This paper examines interrelationship of psychosocial and environmental risk and biological changes observed in mental disorders and tries to identify the possibility of a pathway of the psychopathology of psychiatric disorders. The review aims to demonstrate that significant advances in the fields of psychosocial, cultural, anthropological and neurobiological research provide novel insights into the etiology of mental disorders. There are neurochemical, functional and structural neurobiological, neurocognitive, immunological findings and findings from gene-environment interaction that appears promising. However these findings are in an isolated manner. Comprehensive studies examining major biological changes together in relation to psychosocial risk factors are lacking. Every individual reacts differently to the same environmental risk while there tends to be similarities in individual outcome in response to such stressors. The findings though robust independently, remain very preliminary to suggest a sequential trajectory for developing a clear pathway for pathogenesis. It is currently unclear whether there is a differential psychopathological impact of psychosocial stressors in different cultures despite the extensive variability both between and within major social groups and societies. Further research investigating modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors in context of prevailing socio-economic conditions is urgently needed to plan effective interventions.

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Shrivastava, A. , Boylan, J. , Bureau, Y. , Sousa, A. and Shah, N. (2015) Biological Trajectory for Psychosocial Risk Factors in Psychiatric Disorders—A Concept Based Review. Open Journal of Psychiatry, 5, 7-18. doi: 10.4236/ojpsych.2015.51002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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