Hello. Due to obsessive compulsive disorder I have developed a new obsession that is causing me so much concern I am unable to think about anything else and in desperate need of some reassurance! Firstly I have suffered all my life with mental health problems. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 7 then with OCD at the age of 13. The ocd symptoms were significantly reduced between the ages of 15 to 23 (last year) although in between this time I suffered significantly with depression, although extremely painful to me this was better than OCD. Unfortunately however the symptoms remerged late last year and have been chronic ever since. I am constantly looking for possible reasons for my problems and constantly undergoing countless amounts of treatments and therapy in the hope to finally put an end to all this. Unfortunately to no avail! My recent OCD obsession is a particularly scary one for me I’m seriously worried about developing serious mental illnesses in particular schizophrenia I have spent 2 days straight researching this when I came across the topic of age of the father and increased risk of mental illness. My dad was 44 when I was born and and according to recent studies and findings this doubles my changes of developing schizophrenia. To about 1 in 68 (I think) this worries me no end and I literally can not stop thinking about it. Especially as I am 24 and nearing the age where women tend to develop the illness. I’m basically just looking for some reassurance. Should I be overly concerned about this? I know I do not have the illness but I have convinced myself I will get it. I’m not sure if my mental problems I have experienced in my life so far are due to my fathers age at the time of my birth but if so my main question is if I am susceptible to mental illness does this therefore increase my risk even further when it comes to schizophrenia on top of the risk I already have due to my dad’s age?At the moment I am convinced that schizophrenia is going to affect me and I can honestly think of nothing worse. When I think about my fathers age and my history of mental illness i feel it is inevitable! Sorry this is so long winded I’m having trouble putting it into words but if you can offer any advise at all it will help me no end! Thank you so much.

A. There is a small but negligible increase in your likelihood of developing schizophrenia because of your fathers age at the time of your birth. There is no known cause of schizophrenia. There are many theories about what causes schizophrenia but not one of them has been identified as the true cause. Many people believe that schizophrenia is a brain disease. It is also believed that environment and exposure to stress play instrumental roles in the development of schizophrenia.

You have been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is not uncommon for people with OCD to become fixated on, what many consider to be the most severe mental health disorder, schizophrenia.

The best way to eliminate fear is to focus on reality. Relative to other mental health conditions, schizophrenia is rare. It is diagnosed in approximately 1 to 2% of the population. Thus, it’s statistically unlikely that you will develop the disorder, especially if you have no symptoms.

If you’re not in treatment, you should be. OCD is highly treatable. Choose a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. You may also want to consider taking medication which can also help to control your symptoms. Once your OCD symptoms are under control, this fear will likely dissipate. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Jun 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Can Paternal Age & My Mental Illness Increase Schizophrenia Risk?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/06/21/can-paternal-age-my-mental-illness-increase-schizophrenia-risk/

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