Schizophrenia Is Schizophrenia Genetic? By Toketemu Ohwovoriole Toketemu Ohwovoriole LinkedIn Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics. Learn about our editorial process Updated on February 13, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Daniel B. Block, MD Medically reviewed by Daniel B. Block, MD LinkedIn Twitter Daniel B. Block, MD, is an award-winning, board-certified psychiatrist who operates a private practice in Pennsylvania. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print PeopleImages / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Schizophrenia and Genetics Causes of Schizophrenia Diagnosis Treatment Coping Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is primarily characterized by psychosis. Its most common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorders. Schizophrenia alters how a person thinks, feels, and behaves, and makes it hard for the person living with the condition to discern between what is real and what is not. Scientists have yet to identify what exactly causes schizophrenia, but some research and studies draw a link between the condition and genetics. Schizophrenia and Genetics Your chances of developing the condition as a result of a genetic link increase with your proximity to the person who has the condition. For example, if you have a twin who has the disorder, the odds of you also developing it could be as high as 65%. No single gene can cause schizophrenia. Research suggests that many different genes and their mutations could cause the condition to develop. If you already have a genetic risk of developing schizophrenia, it’s essential to be aware that being exposed to certain environmental factors could increase that risk. Factors such as: Pregnancy complications: Birth and pregnancy complications could increase the risk of a child who is already genetically disposed to developing schizophreniaStress: Being exposed to severe stress, or experiencing a traumatic event could increase your risk of developing schizophreniaDrug abuse: Abusing drugs such as cannabis and hallucinogens could trigger schizophrenia if you are genetically prone to the conditionBrain structure: Differences in brain structure and function could also cause schizophrenia. Scientists believe that changes to the brain that occur during puberty may trigger the development of psychotic conditions, especially in people who were already genetically predisposed to developing the condition. Causes of Schizophrenia There is ample research that shows that schizophrenia is closely linked to a person’s genetics. If you have a parent or close relative who has schizophrenia, you have a one in ten chance of developing the disorder. In comparison, people who don’t have a genetic link to the disorder have a 1 in 100 chance of developing it. Researchers in Denmark found that in one-third of cases where one identical twin had the condition, the other was likely to develop it. However, in non-identical twins, this occurred only in about 7% of the cases. If both your parents have been diagnosed with the condition, you are at a 50% risk of also developing it. Medical experts and researchers are yet to discover what exactly causes schizophrenia. The development of the disorder has been attributed to several factors that include genetics and environmental triggers. Genetic mutations have been identified as the most common risk factor for schizophrenia. Multiple genetic changes that by themselves would otherwise have a small effect, could combine and increase your risk of developing the condition. Researchers have also observed a connection between an imbalance in the chemical messengers in your brain and schizophrenia. Some research suggests that a change in the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain could cause schizophrenia. Diagnosis A diagnosis of schizophrenia is given after consulting with a medical expert who will cross-reference your symptoms with the list of symptoms provided by the DSM-5. A diagnosis of schizophrenia is made if a person has two or more core symptoms most of the time for a month, and some mental disturbance over six months, one of which must be hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech for at least one month. The core symptoms of schizophrenia include: HallucinationsDelusions Catatonic behavior Gross disorganizationDisordered thinking Diminished emotional expression To give a conclusive diagnosis, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and take a look at your medical history. There are no laboratory tests to diagnose schizophrenia, but your doctor might recommend some tests like a CT scan or an MRI, to rule out any other conditions that mirror schizophrenia symptoms. Your doctor will ensure that your symptoms are not being caused by substance abuse or another mental disorder. Treatment 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. Medication 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 visionDrowsinessDry mouthMuscle spasmsRestlessnessTremor 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. Psychotherapy 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. Coping 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. A Word From Verywell While genetics might play a role in the development of schizophrenia there’s no conclusive research to help understand how big of a role it plays. Having a close relative or even a parent with schizophrenia doesn’t mean you automatically develop the condition. It only means that you are at risk of developing it. In certain cases, you are no more at risk than a person who has no genetic link to the condition. If you do have a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia it’s essential to avoid environmental factors that could trigger the condition, like substance abuse. 8 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Nimh. Schizophrenia. Avramopoulos D. Recent advances in the genetics of schizophrenia. CXP. 2018;4(1):35-51. Australia Health Direct. Causes of schizophrenia. NHS UK.Is schizophrenia risk 'around 80% genetic'? Schizophrenia: medlineplus genetics. Schizophrenia Causes. NHS UK. Schizophrenia diagnosis and tests. Cleveland Clinic. Patel KR, Cherian J, Gohil K, Atkinson D. Schizophrenia: overview and treatment options. P T. 2014;39(9):638-645. By Toketemu Ohwovoriole Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.