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If you have a close relative with schizophrenia, you are six times more likely to develop it

Posted at 1:51 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-14 15:51:40-04

As part of our You Are Not Alone partnership with NAMI Utah we talked about schizophrenia, which is a serious mental illness that affects less than one percent of the population in the United States.

But NAMI Utah Executive Director Rob Wesemann told us that if you have a close relative (a parent or a sibling) with schizophrenia, you are six times more likely to develop the illness.

Schizophrenia develops in the late teens and early twenties in men and in women it develops in the late twenties to early thirties.

Schizophrenia is characterized by a general reduction in function and includes:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Negative symptoms - such as low energy, being emotionally flat, and can appear similar to depression
  • Cognitive issues and disorganized thinking

There appears to be a complex interplay of multiple genetic and environmental factors. In addition to a close family member having it, autoimmune disorders may also play a role.

Brain Chemistry - problems with brain chemicals, including the neurotransmitters dopamine and glutamate, may contribute to schizophrenia as well.

Frequent use of substances at a young age may also contribute.

A diagnosis is made when someone's daily functioning is decreased and they have two or more of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

There are several treatment options including:

  • Antipsychotic Medications
  • Psychotherapy
  • Self-Management Strategies and Education
  • First Episode Psychosis (FEP) programs

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