Environmental Risk Factors

It has long been recognized that behavior, health, and disease are affected by a range of environmental factors occurring across multiple social and physical contexts across the life course. For example, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates postulated that the physical environment could cause imbalance of the body’s four basic humors, leading to disease. The environment can be defined generally as the social and physical characteristics of systems, settings, and contexts. Framing disorders as being influenced by both individual (e.g., genetic; socioeconomic status) and environmental factors has important implications for identifying the determinants and mechanisms underlying disorders; such knowledge can help inform prevention, intervention, and policy.

This entry provides examples of environments that shape the development and trajectory of neurodevelopmental disorders, with a focus on depressive disorders. ...

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