If one of my parents has schizophrenia, what is my risk of developing the condition?

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'Should I worry?' This is a question healthcare professionals have faced for years, and studies show that it comes down to the genetic make-up of a person. (iStock)
'Should I worry?' This is a question healthcare professionals have faced for years, and studies show that it comes down to the genetic make-up of a person. (iStock)

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder and often results in psychotic episodes.

Schizophrenia is genetic, and due to  the shared genetics of family members, you might be concerned about the potential risk of developing the condition

Should you worry? 

This is a question healthcare professionals have faced for years, and studies show that it comes down to the genetic make-up of a person living with the disorder.

Schizophrenia is known to be passed down through generations, but no single gene is responsible.

Instead, it is a combination of genes that make people vulnerable and doesn’t always result in the onset of schizophrenia.

Also read: Adolescent mental health: What parents need to know

The hereditary nature of the disorder

The risk of schizophrenia is that 1% of the general population may show symptoms.

However, if a person has a First Degree Relative (FDR) such as a parent or sibling with the condition, the risk of developing schizophrenia rises to 10%.

What’s more, if both parents were diagnosed with schizophrenia, the risk increases to 50%.

These statistics highlight that genetics play a role in developing schizophrenia between family members; however, there are other causes.  

Environmental triggers

Being exposed to certain viruses and toxins may increase the chance of developing schizophrenia. Malnutrition at birth can also contribute to developing schizophrenia.  

Brain chemistry

Fluctuating brain chemicals may cause schizophrenia as chemicals such as neurotransmitters of dopamine and glutamate may be imbalanced and result in the onset of schizophrenia.

Substance abuse

The use of psychoactive or psychotropic substances in teens or young adults may result in an onset of schizophrenia at a later age. Due to chemicals that are prevalent in illicit substances, the brain chemistry is impacted and brings on symptoms of schizophrenia. 

Immune system activation

There is a link between autoimmune diseases and schizophrenia. However, only a small percentage of people with autoimmune diseases develop schizophrenia.  

The above causes play a role when diagnosing schizophrenia, but it’s best to seek the opinion of medical professionals if you or a loved one exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia.  

Submitted to Parent24 by Schizophrenia24x7. 

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