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Unpublished Paper
Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience: An epigenetic trajectory of psychiatric disorders
  • Amresh Srivastava, University of Western Ontario

Biopsychosocial model is generally widely accepted for pathogenesis of mental disorder, recent research shows a different concept. . Social, cultural, environmental factors possibly interact in a complex way to give rise to behavioral symptoms in a particular disorder. Such factors are considered 'risk factors'. but their discrete role in causation of illness is less clear. Two main factors appear to play important role which may partially explain this process. 1. risk-vulnerability and stress diathesis model and the 2. Gene-environment interaction. Both may be operating simultaneously. Our understanding of psychosocial risk factors has been changing in recent years. Psychosocial risk can be defined as those fundamental etiopathological factors known to have a causal or correlational association to mental illness. The relationship between psychosocial stress and mental illness is complex. The experience of major psychosocial risk factors (such as poverty, traumatic stress, or abuse) can be sufficient in itself to trigger mental illness. However, most people are resilient and are typically able to persevere against major life stressors. .There are certain inherent factors which remain protective against potential trauma to some extent. Resilience is one of them. Resilience is a personal characteristic of an individual that enables one to adapt to environmental challenges and overcome adversities. There is growing evidence that positive psychological traits such as resilience, optimism, wisdom and social engagements are associated with significant positive health outcomes that include better overall functioning. Most people, when exposed even to extraordinary levels of stress and trauma, manage to maintain normal psychological and physical functioning and adaptations due to high capacity of resilience. A number of psychiatric disorders have been linked to resilience. It determines the outcome of trauma and disaster, abuse, adversities and severity of psychopathology. There is growing focus on study the etiology of mental disorder according to 'endophenotypic' expression of traits. An endophenotype can be conceptualized as an intermediate stage between genotypic and phenotypic causes for normal and abnormal patterns of mental function. . Changes in gene expression through such epigenetic mechanisms appear to be powerful and lifelong (appearing just after birth and throughout an individual's lifespan; biological mechanism supporting adaptability of the human genome. Such powerful adaption at a genetic level helps us account for variability in symptom expression and evidence of neurological changes in response to psychosocial stress.

Publication Date
May 5, 2014
Citation Information
Amresh Srivastava. "Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience: An epigenetic trajectory of psychiatric disorders" (2014)
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