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The onset of a disorder the first appearance of the signs or symptoms of the condition. This applies to both physical and mental disorders.

This can refer to both the first onset of a disorder or the occurence of another episode. In either case understanding the factors and processes governing onset can be critical to understanding the causes of psychopathology.

Onset may be viewed as due to distal and proximal factors. Proximal factors are those appearing immediately prior to onset. Distal factors are those further removeded in time.