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Schizophrenia Is Hereditary, but Only to a Certain Degree

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  • As mentioned before, genetics is just one possible factor for your risk of developing schizophrenia, but depending on your family history, it may be an important one
  • Research has been done among families with a history of schizophrenia, and the results are very alarming

One of the most commonly asked questions about schizophrenia is if it is hereditary. Genetics is just one possible factor for your risk of developing schizophrenia, but depending on your family history, genetics may be important. Research has been conducted among families with a history of schizophrenia, and the results are very alarming.1

Having a Relative Diagnosed With Schizophrenia Can Increase Your Risk for Developing It

The general population has a 1% chance of developing schizophrenia, but your chances are higher if you have a relative with schizophrenia. If you have a sibling with the disease, there's an 8% chance you may get it. The risk goes up to 12% if you have a parent with the illness, and 14% if you have a fraternal twin who has it. What’s shocking is that if both your parents have schizophrenia, the risk increases to 39%, and if you have an identical twin with schizophrenia, 47%.2

These findings strongly indicate the role of genes in developing schizophrenia, but they are not the only cause, because you may still get it even if you don’t have a relative who has it.3

Research Is Slowly Unraveling the Role of Genes in the Development of Schizophrenia

Researchers believe that several genes are responsible for increasing your risk of developing schizophrenia, but simply having those genes doesn't automatically mean you have schizophrenia. It is believed that only when certain genes begin to malfunction do symptoms appear.4

Dr. Daniel Weinberger, CEO of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, is considered a worldwide, preeminent scientist in schizophrenia research. In 2002 he discovered that an abnormal COMT gene on chromosome 22 increases your risk of schizophrenia by depleting your frontal lobes of dopamine. As a result, hallucinations may form.5

In more recent news, a 2014 study involving 300 scientists from 35 countries, dubbed the Schizophrenia Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, identified 128 genes linked to schizophrenia, 83 of which had never before been linked to the disease.6

The Consortium compared the genomes of persons with schizophrenia against people without the disorder using a genome-wide association study (GWAS). Through GWAS, the researchers were able to accurately verify which genes were linked to schizophrenia by tallying which molecular pairs had mutations.

Despite the results, the research still can't point out exactly which genes are responsible for causing schizophrenia, but there were a few optimistic findings.

Firstly, the study was able to identify the genes that may increase your risk for schizophrenia, which can help researchers improve on future studies. Secondly, the research aided in the discovery of the role of glutamate-related genes in schizophrenia,7 a neurotransmitter responsible for sending signals throughout your nervous system that help with learning and memory.8

Thanks to this discovery, doctors may be able to create treatments that target these glutamate-related genes to help those with schizophrenia manage their condition better. It’s important to study your family’s history for any mental diseases. If there's someone diagnosed with schizophrenia in your family, there are necessary lifestyle changes that you can make to lower your risk of developing it.

MORE ABOUT SCHIZOPHRENIA

Schizophrenia: Introduction

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia Types

Schizophrenia in Children

Schizophrenia Causes

Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?

Schizophrenia Symptoms

Schizophrenia Diagnosis

Schizophrenia Treatment

Famous People With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Prevention

Living With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia FAQ



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