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Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?

Aug 2021 Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?

Is schizophrenia hereditary? Well, while the risk of getting schizophrenia is higher if you have a family member that suffers from the condition, it’s not solely based on genetics. Still, if a person contains a family member who is a parent or other first-degree relative with schizophrenia, the chance of getting schizophrenia jumps from 1 percent to 10 percent. If both parents suffer from schizophrenia, the risk jumps even higher to 50 percent. 

Thus, although the answer to the question, is schizophrenia hereditary is yes, there are many other factors that can cause a person to develop schizophrenia. 

How Does Schizophrenia Run in the Family?

While schizophrenia often occurs within families, it’s not a result of one single gene but rather a combination of genes that make people more susceptible to the disease.While schizophrenia often occurs within families, it’s not a result of one single gene but rather a combination of genes that make people more susceptible to the disease. Even if someone has a combination of those genes, it does not mean the person will develop schizophrenia. 

Studies that show that the answer to the question, is schizophrenia hereditary, is yes were conducted on identical twins. These studies showed that if an identical twin developed schizophrenia, the other twin had a 50 percent chance of developing the disorder as well. 

Identical twins share the same genes. Thus, the fact that it wasn’t even a full guarantee that the identical twin of a person with schizophrenia will also develop schizophrenia goes to show that although the answer to the question, is schizophrenia hereditary, is yes, there are many other factors that impact a person’s development of the disease.  

The same schizophrenia study that was conducted on identical twins was also conducted on non-identical twins. In the non-identical twin version of the study, when one non-identical twin developed schizophrenia, the other one had only a 12.5 percent chance of getting schizophrenia. This is a significantly smaller percent chance of developing schizophrenia than that of identical twins, but still higher than the 1 percent chance that exists in the general population. 

Ultimately, the studies mentioned above show that although the answer to the question, is schizophrenia hereditary, is yes, genetics aren’t the only factor that impacts a person’s likelihood of developing schizophrenia.  

At What Age Does Schizophrenia Typically Appear? 

Schizophrenia tends to appear in men in their late teens to early ’20s. Schizophrenia tends to appear in women in their late ’20s to early ’30s. This type of mental health disorder can develop at any age but, it’s not common for people under 12 or older than 40 to be diagnosed with the disorder. It’s also not easy to diagnose schizophrenia in teens since many of the signs and symptoms of the disorder can relate to many other behavioral health problems that teens often face.  

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia in Teens

  • Changes in a social group
  • Isolation
  • Irritability
  • Negative changes in grades
  • Containing strange thoughts and emotions
  • Hallucinations

A family history of psychosis can indicate that a person may develop schizophrenia. “Prodromal” is the stage before a teen or younger person ends up being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Since substance use disorders and other behavioral health disorders can show some of the same early signs and symptoms as schizophrenia, a medical professional must make an official schizophrenia diagnosis. Still, if any of the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia are persistent in a teenager for six or more months, it is highly likely that the teen contains the disorder. 

Other Factors of Schizophrenia 

How Can People’s Living Environments Cause Them to Develop Schizophrenia?

Living conditions and traumatic adolescent events can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of developing schizophrenia. Children born to mothers at an advanced paternal age are also more likely to develop schizophrenia. Children from mothers who have chronically abused drugs or alcohol while pregnant also contain a greater chance of developing schizophrenia than others. Malnutrition can even be a prenatal contributing factor to the development of schizophrenia. 

Stress and trauma at a young age can also lead to the development of schizophrenia. In addition, life events such as divorce, abuse, and migration greatly increase the overall risk of developing the disease.

How Can Brain Chemistry Affect Schizophrenia Development?

Researchers believe that an imbalance of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate can affect the likelihood that a person will develop schizophrenia. Neurotransmitters are responsible for how external factors such as temperature, lights, and sounds affect people. Thus, an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain will likely result in people having more difficulty handling such stimuli. This, in turn, can cause people to exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations. 

How Substance Abuse Affects the Development of Schizophrenia?

Since drugs and alcohol can alter brain chemistry, they can ultimately increase the chances of developing mental disorders such as schizophrenia. In fact, a person suffering from addiction is six times more likely to also suffer from schizophrenia. Prenatal substance abuse has even been found to be a factor in a child developing schizophrenia. 

In general, the younger a person is when he or she starts abusing alcohol or drugs correlates to the likelihood that the person will later end up with a mental health disorder such as schizophrenia. The risk of developing schizophrenia only rises the longer in life that people abuse substances.  

Addiction to substances makes treatment for schizophrenia more difficult. Also, many substances like marijuana or cocaine tend to make symptoms of schizophrenia more intense. Anyone suffering from schizophrenia should stick to a doctor-approved treatment regimen to minimize the symptoms of the mental health disorder. 

How Can You Tell if Someone is Schizophrenic? 

Only a mental health professional can diagnose someone as schizophrenic. Many erratic and odd behaviors, such as disorganized speech and hallucinations, can indicate schizophrenia though. 

Hallucinations and delusions are hallmark symptoms of schizophrenia. People that experience hallucinations and delusions believe that there are voices speaking to them that aren’t there. Over time this leads to delusions or false beliefs that are erratic or nonsensical. 

For example, someone with schizophrenia might believe that angels speak to him or her and they are part of a bigger religious purpose and serving a deity. If someone you love has indicated that he or she sees or hears things that clearly don’t exist, your loved one could be suffering from schizophrenia. 

What are the Three Stages of Schizophrenia? 

The three stages of schizophrenia are prodromal, active, and residual. 

  • Prodromal: This refers to the beginning stages of schizophrenia. Prodromal is when schizophrenic behavioral symptoms start to develop such as withdrawing from friends and family, mood swings, and irregular thoughts. In time, schizophrenic symptoms become more intense and can lead to schizophrenic psychosis. 
  • Active: During the active stage developing of schizophrenia, people will start to demonstrate the more severe characteristics associated with the disorder. This includes paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. 
  • Residual: The residual stage of schizophrenia is similar to the first stage in that symptoms of the illness are less intense. Individuals in this stage often have low energy and low motivation, and are in depressed moods.  

What are the 4 A’s of Schizophrenia? 

Paul Eugen Bleuler was a Swiss psychiatrist who developed the four As of schizophrenia. The four As of schizophrenia refer to the fundamental symptoms related to the disorder. These four symptoms are Alogia, Autism, Ambivalence, and Affect blunting. 

Alogia

Alogia is characterized by a lack of speech, often referred to as “poverty of speech.” This is due to disruptions while a person is thinking. A person with alogia will have difficulty answering questions and will often slur responses. People with alogia also exhibit inconsistent pauses and annunciations while speaking. 

Autism

Autism is recognized as its own separate illness, but there are many symptoms that autism and schizophrenia share. These symptoms include communication, social inabilities, and motor development. 

Ambivalence

Bleuler describes ambivalence as one of the four main symptoms of schizophrenia. He referred to it as “positive and negative emotions at one and the same time”. Ambivalence is difficult to measure in someone suffering from schizophrenia. People that exhibit ambivalence contain difficulty deciphering their emotions and moods. 

Affect Blunting

Affect blunting, also referred to as emotional blunting, is a strong symptom of schizophrenia. Individuals that exhibit affect blunting find it challenging to expressing their feelings. Thus, people that affect blunt contain a lack of facial expressions, expressive movements, and vocal expressions in response to external factors that should otherwise garner a response. 

Can Schizophrenia Go Away?

There is no current cure for schizophrenia, however, like many mental illnesses, it is manageable. Over time, people with schizophrenia tend to suffer from fewer episodes. The severity of schizophrenic episodes are also fewer over time. 

Treatment for schizophrenia will often include a mix of medications and behavioral therapies.Treatment for Schizophrenia

Treatment for schizophrenia will often include a mix of medications and behavioral therapies. Medications will work to help minimize many schizophrenic symptoms. Behavioral therapies will help individuals work through psychological distress that’s caused by illnesses. 

Medications for Schizophrenia

Physicians will generally prescribe people antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and anti-tremor medications to manage schizophrenic symptoms. Antipsychotic medications help to relieve some of the more intense symptoms related to schizophrenia such as hallucinations and delusions. With regular antipsychotic medication use, people can also prevent schizophrenic symptoms.

Mood stabilizers, otherwise known as antidepressants, can help people regulate the emotional mood swings that are often associated with schizophrenia. Mood stabilizers also make people less affected by paranoia, anxiety, or depression. 

People use anti-tremor medications to treat some of the side effects that are common from antipsychotic medications. This includes muscle stiffness, difficulty with motor coordination, and shakiness. 

Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia

There are several forms of therapy that can help treat schizophrenia. Individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group therapy can help a person manage the symptoms associated with the illness. A psychiatrist can help a person better understand which types of therapies will work best for him or her. 

During individual therapy, a therapist can help an individual understand and learn more about the thoughts and behaviors of people with schizophrenia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps teach people how to better understand schizophrenia. CBT also helps people reprogram their initial reactions to the symptoms of schizophrenia. 

Group therapy for schizophrenia gives people more perspective on the mental disorder. By discussing some of their own personal experiences with schizophrenia with others, schizophrenics can gain insight into their own illness while building a sense of community. 

Suffering from schizophrenia is already extremely difficult. Being able to discuss the common struggles of the disease with others helps alleviate some of the internal pain. Just knowing that you aren’t crazy or alone in your symptoms can help minimize the shame associated with schizophrenia.   

Addiction and Schizophrenia

Because of how stressful and overwhelming suffering from schizophrenia can be, it’s common for people with schizophrenia to abuse substances to cope. Continual substance abuse can cause people with schizophrenia to develop substance addictions. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Addiction and Schizophrenia

Since no two cases of addiction and schizophrenia are similar, the treatment approach for schizophrenia must be unique to each case. Addiction treatment specialists and psychiatrists must determine how a person developed schizophrenia and why that person is also suffering from addiction.

In many cases, a person may be suffering from a substance use disorder in an attempt to minimize his or her symptoms of schizophrenia. In other cases, schizophrenia may be brought on by addiction. 

Dual diagnosis treatment for addiction and schizophrenia is a specialized form of rehab treatment. It requires a team of dedicated professionals to execute this form of treatment properly. 

Receive Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Schizophrenia and Addiction At Phoenix Rising Recovery

Whether the answer to the question, is schizophrenia hereditary, yes or no, getting treatment for schizophrenia is scary. Many people often feel a great deal of shame for experiencing schizophrenia. This feeling of shame along with other emotions makes it difficult for people with schizophrenia to explain their related emotions.

Looking for relief in substances such as drugs and alcohol is actually quite common. However, it is self-destructive and does not offer a long-term solution. 

At Phoenix Rising, our medical professionals can help you or a loved one receive treatment for both schizophrenia and addiction. This is because we offer a variety of dual diagnosis treatment programs that are specialized in substance and mental illness and individualized by the patient. If you think you or someone you love is suffering from schizophrenia and addiction or some other addiction-based dual diagnosis, contact us today. The first step towards lifelong recovery is only a phone call away. 

References:

https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/schizophrenia/causes/

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia

https://www.jneuropsychiatry.org/peer-review/environmental-risk-factors-for-schizophrenia-implications-for-prevention-neuropsychiatry.pdf

https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-w-whatschiz-toc~mental-pubs-w-whatschiz-cau#:~:text=Biochemical%20factors,genetic%20predisposition%20to%20the%20illness.