8 Differences between Psychological and Social Risk Factors

The differences between psychological and social risk factors in mental illness is how the risk factors present themselves in a person’s life. Psychological risk factors are the things that happen directly to you, like your personality, your predominant thoughts, and emotions. On the other hand, social risk factors are more of related circumstances in your life that put you at risk of mental disorders.

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The difference between psychological and social risk factors describes the various components that are most likely to increase mental disorders. However, a person who does not have any mental disorders but is exposed to these factors is at risk of developing mental disorders. The risk factors can be psychological or social.

You can see the effects of mental disorders on how people live their lives and how they are perceived by society. Your mental health has a significant impact on your work life, family, and relationships, and it can significantly affect your quality of life from childhood to adulthood.

There are risk factors that can predispose a person to mental disorders or increase the effects of preexisting mental disorders. These risk factors can be psychological or social or both also known as psychosocial risk factors.

Here are a description of psychological and social risk factors and their differences. However, it is essential to understand both social and psychological risk factors to get a better understanding of the difference between psychological and social risk factors.

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Social Risk Factors for Mental Disorders

Social risk factors that cause mental disorders are as a result of related circumstances in your life that has the capacity to cause or increase mental disorders. Although these are circumstances that occur in relationships in your life, they can be as a result of circumstances that occurred earlier in your childhood.

Examples of Social Risk Factors for Mental Disorders

Here are some examples of social risk factors that can increase the possibility of mental disorders or increase already existing mental conditions. These examples also show the difference between psychological and social risk factors.

Disorganized Attachment Risk Factor

Disorganized attachment is caused by the kind of parenting that a person was exposed to or that a child is currently exposed to. Parents are expected to demonstrate unconditional love to their children through their actions and words. They are expected to show care, love, and discipline through logical punishment when necessary.

However, there are parents who demonstrate these qualities depending on their mood. When they are in a good mood, they become loving and caring. However, when their mood changes and they are in a foul mood, they become hostile and even neglect their children.

Children that grow up in this environment get mixed signals from their parents or caregivers, and they don’t know if they can trust their parents. They become unsure whether they love their parents or hate them or if their parents are good or bad.

A child’s self-esteem can significantly be affected in this kind of environment, and it can put the child at risk of mental disorders such as disorganized attachment.

Low Socio-Economic Risk Factor

The difference between psychological and social risk factors is seen in a person’s economic condition in society. The socio-economic status includes structures within the society and the ability of a person to get employment, housing, and education.

On the other hand, the psychological factors deal with an individual’s mental condition caused by the individual’s emotions, attitudes, and thought processes.

Living in low socio-economic conditions can lead to the following social risk factors.


People suffering from mental disorders have to endure discrimination from society. Although they have been diagnosed with mental disorders, constant discrimination from teachers, parents, and the society can aggravate their condition. This discrimination increases the likelihood of progression of an already existing mental illness or could lead to a different kind of mental disorder like depression.

For example, a child diagnosed with ADHD caused by hyperactivity, when treated differently and in a judgmental manner, can lead to another mental condition like depression. The depression is a result of discrimination from the relationships in the child’s life.

Psychological and Social Risk Factors

Education Disadvantage

Lack of access to education can mean a lack of opportunities that can put you at a disadvantage. The lack of opportunities can lead to poverty, which can also lead to low self-esteem and a feeling of worthlessness.


Poverty can make you developmental disorders like anxiety, stress, and even depression. Lack of employment and income or loss of a job can lead to stress or depression because of your inability to provide basic needs to your family. Children that come from poor families usually suffer from anxiety and fear. Poverty can cause shame and low self-esteem, especially when you are not able to afford proper housing or when a person becomes homeless.

Poverty is associated with insecurity, which causes fear and even anxiety. People living in poor conditions are more vulnerable and anxious. However, people who have a stable income enjoy financial security and healthy relationships. They are calmer, confident, and secure.


Lack of proper food and nutrition can cause your body not to develop well. Essential nutrients in the body help to keep the body and mind healthy. However, a malnourished child is mostly weak and unable to socialize with their peers leading to isolation and loneliness.

Living in Areas with High Crime

People living in areas with a high crime rate mostly experience fear and anxiety. Although they are exposed to violence and are often vulnerable, they might think that violence is a means to solving problems and can develop aggressive behavior. This can also lead to personality disorders.

Lack of Treatment for Mental Health

A person suffering from mental health needs to get treatment to alleviate the effects of his or her suffering. However, in some instances, this treatment is not accessible, and this can lead to the progression of the mental disorder or the development of another one.

Violence Risk Factor

Living in an environment that has a high rate of violence, as a result of the crime or domestic violence can lead to aggressive behavior and personality disorder. A neighborhood with a high crime rate can create a sense of vulnerability and anxiety and make violence look like a solution to problems. Children and adults exposed to domestic violence can exhibit similar behaviors.

Stigma Risk Factor

Mental disorder is associated with shame, and many people with mental illness face stigma from the society. Negative judgment and discrimination from people close to a person with a mental disorder can lead to the progression of the condition.

People who experience stigma as a result of mental illness can become angry and feel unloved. Stigma is a risk factor that can worsen mental illness or, worse, create a new one.

Loss as a Risk Factor

The loss of a loved one through death or divorce can put a person at risk of suffering from depression. This kind of traumatic event can cause emotional instability and vulnerability, exposing the person to the likelihood of depression.

However, when a person is not able to cope with pain, the depression can further lead to extreme fear and anger, which can lead to aggressive behavior.

Lack of Healthy Relationships and Isolation

Healthy and meaningful relationships are essential for a healthy mental state. However, isolation can lead to a feeling of loneliness and depression. Family and friends can form a good support system in case of a situation that is a threat to your mental health.

Although friends and family provide a good support system, bad company and friends can also lead to more severe mental problems, and they are a risk factor to your mental health.

These are the social risk factors that can cause mental disorders if they are not mitigated early enough.

They comprise of social structures and relationships from your past or your current circumstances. These social risk factors elaborate on the differences between psychological and social risk factors.

Although the differences between psychological and social risk factors are evident, they both lead to mental disorders that need to be treated and properly managed. It is also essential to clearly understand some of the psychological risk factors that could lead to the development of mental disorders or aggravate an already existing condition.

Psychological Risk Factors for Mental Disorders

Psychological risk factors for mental disorders are caused by a process that takes place within an individual. They include your personality, your thought patterns, attitudes, and emotions that have the capacity to lead to mental disorders or aggravate an already existing mental condition.

Here are examples of psychological risk factors

Negative Thinking Risk Factor

Continuous and consistent engagement of negative thoughts can lead to the development of mental disorders. When a person is constantly worried about negative things that could happen currently or in the future, it creates the feeling of anxiety and worry.

Although the future might be worrisome consistent worrying only creates anxiety, which ultimately leads to depression. Negative thinking and obsession with negative situations only predispose you to depression and anxiety.

Temperament Issues In children

Children that are having problems with their temperaments are more exposed to the possibility of developing mental disorders.

Family History Risk Factor

People who have family members with mental disorders are more predisposed to getting mental disorders. Although it is not a guarantee that if a family member has a mental disorder, all the other members will get the same disorder, it increases its likelihood.

However, some genes can increase your risk of inheriting mental illness from blood relatives like parents or even siblings. Mental illness can be triggered by circumstances in your life.

Low Intelligence Risk Factor

Low intelligence can be a risk factor that can lead to a developmental disorder. Children who exhibit very low intelligence can end up exhibiting developmental problems caused by impaired brain functions, which eventually lead to mental disorders.

Substance Use and Abuse

Substance use and abuse can lead to mental disorders. There are drugs that, when used, interferes with a person’s mental health. People who use these substances are not able to function normally or have meaningful relationships in the society.

Moreover, most of the people who use these substances are not able to take responsibility for their lives, and they cannot hold on to a job due to addictions. Other substances like excessive use of alcohol can also lead to addictions and mental disorders, which in turn lead to a sense of hopelessness.

Exposure to Drugs, Alcohol and Other Substances

A pregnant mother who drinks alcohol smokes or uses and abuses other substances is exposing her unborn child to risk factors that can lead to mental disorders.

This kind of exposure can lead to a child born with mental disorders due to the effects of the substances that the mother used during pregnancy.

Significant and Chronic Medical Conditions Risk Factors

People suffering from severe and chronic medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or chronic pain are at a high risk of mental disorder. Physical pain and illness can cause a lot of strain and stress to the patient that can lead to depression and a feeling of helplessness.

Although the patient is receiving treatment for the physical illness mentally and emotionally, the patient could be developing a mental illness as a result of the disease.

On the other hand, caregivers of terminally and critically ill patients can also develop mental disorders due to stress and fatigue.

Taking care of a loved one can cause strain and emotional instability to caregivers, especially if they are the primary providers.

Injury and Brain Damage Risk Factor

Injury resulting from an accident can cause severe mental disorders. Although injuries can be mild, while others can be severe, they can cause fear and trauma. Injuries can lead be as severe and traumatic as losing a limb through an accident that can lead to a total lifestyle change.

Such injuries can cause severe depression and trauma to the victim and the victim’s family. The victim can have feelings of resentment and anger while the caregivers can feel helpless and stressed with the situation.

Traumatic Experiences

A person who has been through traumatic experiences is more likely to suffer from mental disorders. Trauma caused by military wars or abuse can cause a lot of anxiety, fear, and in extreme cases, depression. Physical or emotional abuse can lead to feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.

However, such traumatic experiences can last for a long time and, if not treated, can cause severe mental problems.

Previous Mental Disorders Risk Factor

A previous mental disorder can put a person at risk of a recurrence of the same mental illness or an emergence of a different one. The recurrence can be triggered by a situation or an event.

These psychological risk factors are a result of various processes, and they affect an individual. They also clearly show the difference between psychological and social risk factors.

Psychological and Social Risk Factors

Components that Show the Difference between Psychological and Social Risk Factors

The difference between psychological and social risk factors is in the components that contribute to mental disorders. The social components are as a result of the relationships that individual forms and the environment they are exposed to. The socio-economic aspect of the social component impacts significantly on mental health.

Income, employment, proper housing, food, and nutrition are some of the major factors. However, these factors are related to structures within the society. The lower a person’s socio-economic condition is, the higher the risk of mental disorder.

On the other hand, an individual’s emotional wellbeing thought patterns, and personality can predispose them to mental illness, and these are the psychological risk factors. They are processes that take place to an individual like drugs and substance abuse, or inherited genes from blood relatives.

Although there is a difference between psychological and social risk factors, their symptoms and impact are similar. Mental disorders caused by psychosocial risk factors show symptoms like a panic attack, confusion, social withdrawal and loneliness, anxiety, and hostility, among many others. These symptoms can be seen in both children and adults.

However, strategies can be put in place to prevent mental disorders, and effective treatment can alleviate the social and economic impact of mental disorders. Mental disorder continues to increase worldwide, and it impacts on human rights. However, proper strategies and effective treatment can help reduce this impact.


The components of both social and psychological risk factors clearly depict the difference between psychological and social risk factors. The social components are more concerned with the society and the social structures, while the psychological components focus more on the individual. However, these risk factors all lead to mental disorders like depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia, bipolar, and many others. The mental disorder can be as a result of psychological or social risk factors or a combination of both also called psychosocial risk factors. For more on differences between psychological and social risk factors, check out myhomeworkwriters.com the best online essay help service.

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