Schizophrenic Spectrum disorders are complex conditions that involve several symptoms. Given the condition’s complexity, the causes are not entirely known.

It is believed that many factors can contribute to the onset of the condition. In many cases, there are multiple factors that may impact the development of a mental health condition.

A range of potential causes have been put forward to explain the Schizophrenic Spectrum

What is the Schizophrenic Spectrum?

Schizophrenic Spectrum: The Schizophrenic Spectrum consists of a few different conditions that are characterised by a range of symptoms. These symptoms normally revolve around a difficulty in understanding reality due to changes in the way someone thinks, feels, or acts. These conditions usually involve a breakdown in the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviour – often resulting in psychotic symptoms. Treatment is available, and can result in an improvement in quality of life.

What are some potential causes of Schizophrenic Spectrum disorders?

Many believe that conditions on the schizophrenic spectrum develop as a result of various factors. Some of these potential factors are listed below:

  • Genetics: It appears that schizophrenic spectrum disorders can run in families. One study found that heritability rates for Schizophrenia is around 80% – suggesting genetics plays a big role in the onset of the condition [1]. However, there doesn’t appear to be a certain gene that causes this. Having a parent with Schizophrenia raises the risk of an individual developing the illness. This is similar with identical twins. But this is purely a risk factor, and not always a cause – having a family history of Schizophrenia doesn’t mean the illness will always develop.
  • Chemical Imbalance: It is believed that some neurotransmitters in the brain may be unbalanced. Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, are chemicals that help regulate mood and communication in the brain. When these chemicals become unbalanced, it is possible that a mental health condition may develop. Antipsychotic medication, which is used in the treatment of schizophrenic spectrum disorders, helps to restore the balance, which normally results in the lessening of symptoms – adding credence to this theory.
  • Abuse: Physical, sexual or emotional abuse can lead to schizophrenic spectrum disorders developing, as it can commonly disrupt the development of the brain.
  • Childhood Events: Childhood events help shape the personality of an individual. Personality defects can often appear as a result, or someone may struggle to make friends or trust someone. This can lead to loneliness. Being bullied or the death of a parent when young also act as risk factors. Any traumatic event in childhood has been explicitly linked to the risk of psychosis increasing [2].
  • Trauma: A traumatic event is often seen as a trigger of any mental health condition, with schizophrenic spectrum disorders being no different. A stressful or distressing event like bereavement, abuse or relationship difficulties can act as a trigger.
  • Brain Differences: Scans on the brains of individuals with schizophrenic spectrum disorders suggest there are minor differences in brain structure. As a result, it is possible that these conditions may develop as a result of a brain disorder. Further research is needed however in this area.
  • Low-income Urban Area: Living in an area which is stricken with poverty can act as a risk factor. It is believed more people develop Schizophrenia in towns and cities compared to rural villages [3].
  • Financial Issues: Finance underpins the lives of many people. Financial problems often causes stress, which can lead to a mental health condition developing.
  • Other Mental Health Conditions: Schizophrenic spectrum disorders can potentially start off as another mental health condition, like Depression, Brief Psychotic Disorder or Schizotypal Personality Disorder, before exacerbating.
  • Substance Abuse: Any form of substance abuse can increase the likelihood of schizophrenic spectrum disorders developing. Many street drugs have been particularly linked to the onset of Schizophrenia. Amphetamines, cannabis and cocaine have all been linked. Those who use street drugs (especially strong cannabis) regularly in their teenage years may be particularly susceptible to developing Schizophrenia [4].
  • Birth Complications: Some more research into Schizophrenia has yielded the belief that complications during birth can lead to an increased risk of Schizophrenia developing in later life [5]. Such complications include premature birth, a lack of oxygen in birth, along with a low birth weight. This could also cause brain development issues, which is referred to above.
  • Loneliness: Loneliness is difficult to cope with, and can trigger a mental health condition, including schizophrenic spectrum disorders.


As seen above, there are a huge range of factors which could play a role in the development of schizophrenic spectrum disorders.

While it is useful to know the causes, what is most important is that the condition is treated. Treatment is available, and can certainly help.

See Also

  1. Schizophrenic Spectrum: Everything You Need to Know
  2. What Are The Different Types of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  3. What Are The Symptoms of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  4. What Are The Causes of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  5. How are Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders Diagnosed?
  6. How Can Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders be Treated?
  7. What is the Prognosis for Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders??
  8. 10 Tips for Living With Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?

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If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.


[1]         Combs, D. R., Mueser, K. T., & Gutierrez, M. M. (2011). Schizophrenia: Etiological considerations. In: Hersen, M., & Beidel, D. C. (Eds). Adult Psychopathology and Diagnosis. 6th ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

[2]         Dvir, Y., Denietolis, B., & Frazier, J. A. (2013). Childhood Trauma and Psychosis. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 22 (4): p629-641. DOI:

[3]         Fond, G. B., Yon, D. K., Tran, B., Mallet, J., Urbach, M., Leignier, S., Rey, R., Misdrahi, D., Llorca, P-M., Schurhoff, F., Berna, F., & Boyer, L. (2023). Poverty and inequality in real-world schizophrenia: a national study. Frontiers in Public Health. 11 (1182441). PMID: 38026279.

[4]         Parakh, P., & Basu, D. (2013). Cannabis and psychosis: Have we found the missing links?. Asian Journal of Psychiatry. 6 (4): p281-287. DOI:

[5]         Jenkins, T. A. (2013). Perinatal complications and schizophrenia: involvement of the immune system. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 7 (110). DOI: