Hello, I’m currently in an introductory psychology class, and we’re going over abnormalities. My instructor is fascinated with schizophrenia, and reminds us nearly every day that my age group is most prone to get this devastating condition. So, I went to my family history to learn whether or not I was vulnerable.
I have no history of schizophrenia or any mental health condition on my dad’s side. On my mom’s side, my aunts, uncles, three 25-30 year old cousins, and mom don’t have schizophrenia. My grandfather, however, battled schizophrenia all his life; he said it began after he served in WWII. Also, I have no anxiety/depression related issues on either side of my family.
What are my odds of getting schizophrenia? Right now I’m terrified I’d get it; should I be? Is there a way I can find out whether or not I’d come down with Schizophrenia later?
Thank you!What Are My Odds of Contracting Schizophrenia?
What Are My Odds of Contracting Schizophrenia?
There is a well-documented phenomenon among medical students called medical student syndrome. The syndrome involves young medical students believing that they have contracted whatever disease they are studying.
The same seems to be true for young psychology students. They become convinced that they may have a number of mental illnesses. It’s a very common phenomenon.
The general population has about a 1% chance of developing schizophrenia. For a person with a family history of schizophrenia, the chance increases but how much depends on many factors. For instance, having a parent with schizophrenia would increase your chances of developing the disorder by approximately 13-15%. The risk for grandchildren is far less.
Your grandfather having had schizophrenia is significantly unlikely to increase your chances of developing schizophrenia. Genetics are involved in the development of schizophrenia but so are many other psychosocial factors, including: stress level, socioeconomic status, substance abuse, history of abuse and trauma, among other things. How one ultimately develops schizophrenia remains a mystery.
The bottom line is that your odds of developing schizophrenia are quite low, especially because you have no symptoms of the disorder. Nothing you have written would indicate that your fears about developing schizophrenia are valid. I hope this helps. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle