Will My Paranoia Lead to Schizophrenia?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Yesterday I was diagnosed with paranoia, and I started on Saphris. I’m worried that my paranoia will eventually lead to having schizophrenia. I am 16 now, and will be 17 in 2 weeks. I have an older sister who is schizophrenic, which means I could easily get it. My main issues before being diagnosed with paranoia were anxiety related. I always thought people were staring at me, laughing at me, or judging me in school. I always thought when people talked to me they had other intentions. I’m just really really worried that I will become schizophrenic.

And I am aware that marijuana usage will increase my chances of becoming schizophrenic. I haven’t smoke marijuana in a year, and I am never going to continue it. Although I have never been a heavy smoker, will my short amount of smoking still contribute to my possible future schizophrenia? I have never heard voices, or seen things that were not there.

A. There is no easy answer to your question regarding whether your paranoia will lead to schizophrenia because the cause of the disorder is unknown. The fact that you are currently undergoing treatment for your symptoms greatly decreases the likelihood that you will develop schizophrenia. Medication controls symptoms and in some cases, eliminates them.

The importance of early treatment for psychotic disorders cannot be overstated. Research shows that intervention in the early stages of psychosis can significantly improve responses to treatment and potentially prevent the development of a psychotic disorder. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome.

It was also very wise to stop smoking marijuana. Marijuana is a hallucinogenic drug which has been linked to psychotic disorders. What makes marijuana so dangerous, and other street drugs in general, is that they are unregulated. Drugs from uncontrolled sources have a high potential to be dangerous. You simply don’t know where they come from or how they have been treated.

Your second question about whether your having smoked marijuana will contribute to the potential development of schizophrenia is also difficult to answer. The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown, but many experts agree that it might be a combination of genetics and environment. Psychosocial stressors can also contribute to the development of schizophrenia.

Finally, having a family member with schizophrenia increases the possibility of developing the disorder but only slightly. Just because your sister has it does not mean that you will also have it. To protect yourself against the development of a psychotic disorder, it’s important to adhere to your prescribed treatments, don’t use illegal drugs, learn how to manage your anxiety, develop a strong social support network, and stay grounded in reality. Psychotherapy could greatly assist you in these efforts. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Aug 2014

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2014). Will My Paranoia Lead to Schizophrenia?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/08/28/will-my-paranoia-lead-to-schizophrenia/

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