What Causes Psychosis?

Psychosis and genetics

Psychosis is a condition that can be passed down through genes. Families that already have a member with psychosis, related family members and generations to follow can inherit the condition. This is called genetic predisposition.

Psychosis has an environmental factor

The latest research is telling us that a combination of genetics and the environment, or circumstances a person lives in, can increase the chances for having an event of psychosis. Stress, for example, has been shown to be an important factor in increasing the chances of experiencing psychosis in persons with a genetic predisposition. Most often it’s during big life changes (like starting university or changing jobs) or serious events (like having surgery or a death in the family) that people will start experiencing their first symptoms of psychosis.

Brain Chemicals

Science is telling us that a chemical in the brain, a neurotransmitter called dopamine, is somehow involved in psychosis. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that helps to control the flow of information in the brain. If you turn on the tap of dopamine, like a rush of water from a faucet, the brain will want to take in more and more information, often more than it can handle at one time. If you close off the tap of dopamine, the brain responds in another way, by creating slowness and problems with the body’s muscles, like in Parkinson’s disease.

With psychosis, researchers think that the tap of dopamine is turned on too high, leading to a constant rush of information that overwhelms the brain. The medications that are most often used to treat psychosis help to control the amount of dopamine in the brain.

Psychosis is treatable

Many people who are treated early never have an episode again.

Learn About Ways to Treat Psychosis