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Factors Influencing the Development of Psychopathology

Factors Influencing the Development of Psychopathology

Various studies have shown that mental disorders are genetic and hereditary. According to Sadock et al. (2015), molecular biology has shown that certain chromosomal genes and regions are linked with certain diagnoses. About 40 to 70% of personality, temperament, and cognition aspects are attributed to genetic factors. Since these are the domains commonly affected in patients with mental illnesses, genetic influence on mental illness cannot be dismissed (Sadock et al., 2015). Furthermore, the brain has various neurotransmitters and neurons which play a key role in mental disorders. Over five neurotransmitter systems are involved in mental disorders, including dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, GABA, and norepinephrine (Lumen, 2022). Abnormal genes result in modifications in synaptic integrity, axonal projections, and certain steps in intraneuronal molecular signalling, hence development in psychopathology.

Some psychological factors, such as childhood neglect and abuse and the death of a loved one, can cause psychopathology. Early life factors like adversity and exposure to trauma are commonly linked to mood disorders like depression and anxiety disorders like PTSD (Kalin, 2020). Behavioural factors like physical activity, nutrition, and sleep also affect mental health. Cognitive factors like biased attention to threatening and positive stimuli also play a role in mental disorders. Accordingly, children with attention biases to threats have more regular anxiety symptoms, less effective emotion-regulation skills and more social avoidance than those without (Troller‐Renfree et al., 2018). Conversely, those with positive biases have more positive affect, reward sensitivity, approach behaviour, prosocial behaviour, and adaptive emotion-regulation skills but lower anxiety rates and internalizing symptoms (Troller‐Renfree et al., 2018).

Interpersonal, social, and cultural factors also play a key role in psychopathology. One is considered abnormal when they behave in a manner that does not conform to the general norms. Some factors like sexuality, race, education level, and gender can cause disparities in mental health. For instance, homosexuals and Blacks are considered to be more prone to suicide and depression than heterosexuals and Caucasians. The cultural explanations behind illnesses can also define the sick behaviour or a patient’s role (Sadock et al., 2015). The stigma that comes with having certain mental health illnesses can result in low help-seeking behaviours. Lastly, interpersonal factors can be in the form of vulnerability in case of maladaptive behaviour or protective in case of supportive behaviours against mental health disorders like depression.


Kalin, N. H. (2020). Early-life environmental factors impacting the development of psychopathology. American Journal of Psychiatry177(1), 1-3.

Lumen. (2022). Biological Elements of Psychopathology.,the%20development%20of%20mental%20disorders.

Sadock, B. J., Sadock, V. A., & Ruiz, P. (2015). Kaplan & Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry (11th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Troller‐Renfree, S., Zeanah, C. H., Nelson, C. A., & Fox, N. A. (2018). Neural and cognitive factors influencing the emergence of psychopathology: Insights from the Bucharest early intervention project. Child development perspectives12(1), 28-33.


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Factors Influencing the Development of Psychopathology

Factors Influencing the Development of Psychopathology

Explain the biological (genetic and neuroscientific), psychological (behavioural and cognitive processes, emotional, developmental); and social, cultural, and interpersonal factors that influence the development of psychopathology.

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