Is Schizophrenia Hereditary? Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors & Therapies
Causes – Schizophrenia
Is schizophrenia hereditary? the exact causes of schizophrenia are unknown. Research suggests a combination of physical, genetic, psychological, and environmental factors can make a person more likely to develop the condition.
Some people may be prone to schizophrenia, and a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode. However, it’s not known why some people develop symptoms while others do not.
Psychosocial factors may also contribute to schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia affects 20 million people worldwide but is not as common as many other mental disorders. Schizophrenia also commonly starts earlier among men.  Studies of people with schizophrenia have shown there are subtle differences in the structure of their brains. These changes are not seen in everyone with schizophrenia and can occur in people who do not have a mental illness. But they suggest schizophrenia may partly be a disorder of the brain.
Schizophrenia is associated with considerable disability and may affect educational and occupational performance. People with schizophrenia are 2 – 3 times more likely to die early than the general population. This is often due to physical illnesses, such as cardiovascular, metabolic, and infectious diseases. Stigma, discrimination, and violation of human rights of people with schizophrenia are common.
Triggers are things that can cause schizophrenia to develop in people who are at risk.
The main psychological triggers of schizophrenia are stressful life events, such as:
- Losing your job or home
- The end of a relationship
- Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
These kinds of experiences, although stressful, do not cause schizophrenia. However, they can trigger its development in someone already vulnerable to it. 
Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?
Schizophrenia tends to run in families, but no single gene is thought to be responsible.
It’s more likely that different combinations of genes make people more vulnerable to the condition. However, having these genes does not necessarily mean you’ll develop schizophrenia.
Evidence that the disorder is partly inherited comes from studies of twins. Identical twins share the same genes.
In identical twins, if a twin develops schizophrenia, the other twin has a 1 in 2 chance of developing it, too. This is true even if they’re raised separately.
In non-identical twins, who have different genetic make-ups, when a twin develops schizophrenia, the other only has a 1 in 8 chance of developing the condition.
While this is higher than in the general population, where the chance is about 1 in 100, it suggests genes are not the only factor influencing the development of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a psychosis, a type of mental illness characterized by distortions in thinking, perception, emotions, language, sense of self, and behavior. Common experiences include:
- Hallucination: hearing, seeing or feeling things that are not there;
- Delusion: fixed false beliefs or suspicions not shared by others in the person’s culture and that are firmly held even when there is evidence to the contrary;
- Abnormal behaviour: disorganised behaviour such as wandering aimlessly, mumbling or laughing to self, strange appearance, self-neglect or appearing unkempt;
- Disorganised speech: incoherent or irrelevant speech; and/or
- Disturbances of emotions: marked apathy or disconnect between reported emotion and what is observed such as facial expression or body language.
It has traditionally been assumed that changes in the DNA sequence are solely responsible for the transmission of schizophrenia. However, twin studies show that it is also conceivable that an epigenetic mechanism may contribute to the transmission of schizophrenia. The possibility of a role for epigenetics, i.e., changes in phenotype not explained by DNA sequence, was raised first as an explanation of the incomplete concordance for schizophrenia in monozygotic twins, but still remains little tested due to methodological difficulties. 
Research has shown people who develop schizophrenia are more likely to have experienced complications before and during their birth, such as:
- A low birthweight
- Premature labour
- A lack of oxygen (asphyxia) during birth
It may be that these things have a subtle effect on brain development.
Drug Abuse and Schizophrenia
Drugs do not directly cause schizophrenia, but studies have shown drug misuse increases the risk of developing schizophrenia or a similar illness.
Certain drugs, particularly cannabis, cocaine, LSD, or amphetamines, may trigger symptoms of schizophrenia in people who are susceptible.
Using amphetamines or cocaine addiction can lead to psychosis, and can cause a relapse in people recovering from an earlier episode.
Research has shown that teenagers and young adults who use cannabis regularly are more likely to develop schizophrenia in later adulthood. 
How is Schizophrenia Diagnosed?
People with schizophrenia are prone to human rights violations both inside mental health institutions and in communities. The stigma of the disorder is high. This contributes to discrimination, which can in turn limit access to general health care, education, housing, and employment.
Schizophrenia commonly has a chronic course albeit with fluctuating patterns, and cognitive disability. Its hallmark is psychosis, mainly characterized by positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions that are frequently accompanied by negative (deficit) symptoms such as reduced emotions, speech, and interest, and by disorganization symptoms such as disrupted syntax and behavior. Severe mood symptoms, up to and including manic and major depressive episodes, are present in many cases.
There are no diagnostic laboratory tests for schizophrenia; instead, the diagnosis relies on clinical observation and self-report. It is then remarkable that ongoing epidemiological study over the last century using the clinical phenotype, but with variable ascertainment and assessment rules, has consistently shown the importance of genetic factors in schizophrenia.
More than 69% of people with schizophrenia are not receiving appropriate care. Ninety percent of people with untreated schizophrenia live in low- and middle-income countries. Lack of access to mental health services is an important issue. Furthermore, people with schizophrenia are less likely to seek care than the general population.
Schizophrenia is treatable. Treatment with medicines and psychosocial support is effective. However, most people with chronic schizophrenia lack access to treatment.
There is clear evidence that old-style mental hospitals are not effective in providing the treatment that people with mental disorders need and violate the basic human rights of persons with mental disorders. Efforts to transfer care from mental health institutions to the community need to be expanded and accelerated. The engagement of family members and the wider community in providing support is very important.
There is currently no cure for schizophrenia, largely because scientists have been unable to pinpoint a single cause. However, there are treatment options that can help manage symptoms and improve the daily functioning of a person living with the condition.
Antipsychotic medications are typically administered to reduce the severity of the psychotic symptoms that characterize this condition. However, they don’t ensure there will be no further psychotic episodes.
When you start taking antipsychotic medications you could experience some side effects like weight gain and restlessness. These symptoms are most likely to subside over time. If they don’t or become worse, speak to your doctor immediately.
Other side effects of antipsychotic medications include:
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Muscle spasms
Even if you notice a significant improvement in your symptoms and feel that you no longer need medication, you shouldn’t discontinue any medication prescribed for your schizophrenia without first consulting your doctor.
Some common medications for schizophrenia include:
- Risperidone (Risperdal)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon)
- Clozapine (Clozaril)
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
That said, many of these drugs have adverse effects, including neurological symptoms and weight gain. Newer medications may have less severe side effects, however.
It is essential for a person to continue with their treatment plan, even if the symptoms improve. If a person stops taking medication, the symptoms may return .
Psychotherapy treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and behavioral skills training are typically recommended to help manage symptoms of schizophrenia. These treatments are recommended alongside medication and not as a replacement. Psychotherapy treatments help equip you with the skills to manage your symptoms and improve your daily functioning.
Living with and supporting a loved one who has schizophrenia can be difficult. Especially when they are experiencing severe psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. Besides the treatment plan prescribed by their doctor, it’s very important for a person living with this condition to have the care and support of the people closest to them. Here are some ways you can help:
- Encouraging them to join support groups with other people living with their condition. There are also support groups for the loved ones of people living with this condition that will give you more tips on how to cope.
- By ensuring that they are consistent with their treatment and taking their medications regularly.
- Be supportive when they having a psychosis episode. While you can tell that they are hallucinating or having a delusion, they can’t.
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If you have concerns regarding your diagnosis or want licensed guidance for your questions such as is schizophrenia hereditary? please contact us.
 Schizophrenia – World Health Organization
 Causes – Schizophrenia – https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/schizophrenia/causes/
 The Role of Genetics in the Etiology of Schizophrenia – National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
 SAMHSA -https://www.samhsa.gov/serious-mental-illness/schizophrenia