What Causes Mental Illness To Run In Families
We do not fully understand what causes mental illness. Or why it can be passed on in families.
When a condition is passed on in families through genes, it is called hereditary.
As the table above shows, the chances of developing a mental illness could depend on you and your relatives genes.
It does seem that mental illness can be hereditary. But we do not fully understand how this works. Mental illness may be passed on in family members for different reasons, not just genes.
John is an identical twin. This means he and his brother Sam have the exact same genes. This is why they look the same. John has depression, but his brother Sam has never had any mental health problems. If mental illness only had a genetic cause, then John and Sam would both have depression.
Environmental factors, like loneliness or a stressful life event, can cause mental illness. If you have a family history of mental illness you have a higher chance of developing mental illness in these situations.
This doesnt mean that you will definitely develop a mental illness. People with no family history of mental illness can develop a mental illness too.
There are different ways of looking after your mental health, which are explained more further down this page.
Are Mental Health Problems Increasing
The overall number of people reporting mental health problems has been going up in recent years.
- The amount of people with common mental health problems went up by 20% between 1993 to 2014, in both men and women .
- The percentage of people reporting severe mental health symptoms in any given week rose from 7% in 1993, to over 9% in 2014 .
- The number of young women reporting common mental health problems has been going up .
Overall reported suicide numbers have also gone up in England and Wales since 2018. They had been going down before that.
This is partly because in 2018 the rules changed around recording causes of death. So more deaths are now being recorded as suicide, whereas before they might have been recorded as something else.
But there has still been a clear increase in the number of men and the number of people under 25 taking their own life since 2018 .
We also know that:
- People reporting self-harm went up by 62% between the years 20002014 .
- People reporting having had suicidal thoughts within the past year went up by 30% between the years 20002014 .
- The number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is rising faster than the number of people experiencing mental health problems overall.
This might mean that people are finding it harder to cope with mental health problems.
Genetic Causes Of Schizophrenia
Many genes play a role in your odds of getting schizophrenia. A change to any of them can do it. But usually, itâs several small changes that add up and lead to a higher risk. Doctors arenât sure how genetic changes lead to schizophrenia. But theyâve found that people who have the disorder may be more likely to have problems in their genes that may interfere with brain development.
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No Test Can Determine If A Person Has Schizophrenia Schizophrenia Facts Show
According to the DSM-5, schizophrenia is diagnosed if a person exhibits two or more core symptoms for at least one month. Still, schizophrenia is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. First, a medical professional excludes other physical conditions and mental disorders. Once that is done, a schizophrenia diagnosis can come around.
How Does This Condition Affect My Body
Schizophrenia is a condition that has severe effects on a persons physical and mental well-being. This is because it disrupts how your brain works, interfering with your thinking ability, memory, how your senses work and more.
Because your brain isnt working correctly, having schizophrenia often causes you to struggle in many parts of your day-to-day life. Schizophrenia often disrupts your relationships . It can also cause you to have trouble organizing your thoughts, and you might behave in ways that put you at risk for injuries or other illnesses.
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Care When You Go Home From Hospital With Your Baby
Your mental health should be closely monitored. Your midwives, health visitor and mental health nurse should visit you regularly in the first few weeks after your baby is born. If you become unwell, they will see this quickly, so you can get treatment as soon as possible.
You and your family should have emergency contact numbers for local crisis services. See your GP or go to A& E if you, or your partner or family, think you are becoming unwell.
If you think you are becoming unwell dont wait to seek help. Symptoms can get worse quickly.
Schizophrenia And Violence Statistics Break The Link Between The Two
A recent study involving 1,435 participants showed acts of violence to be quite rare. In fact, 19 out of 20 participants didnt report any violence during the 2-year follow-up period. The study also looked into the participants who had been victims of violence. Those people were more likely to exhibit violent behavior.
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What Are The Main Types Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is the term used for a series of mental health disorders that fall along the same spectrum, including:
- Paranoid schizophrenia: This includes symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, disorganised speech and difficulty concentrating.
- Hebephrenic or disorganised schizophrenia: These types of schizophrenia dont include hallucinations or delusions but do include disorganised behaviour and speech. They may also include inappropriate emotional responses or lack of any emotional response.
- Undifferentiated schizophrenia: People affected may display behaviours that are applicable to more than one subtype of schizophrenia. While there are different types of schizophrenia, these disorders fall on a spectrum and should be treated as such.
- Residual schizophrenia: This is when someone has a previous diagnosis of schizophrenia but no longer has any prominent symptoms of the disorder. The symptoms have lessened in intensity and generally include poor attention, some mental disorganisation, and emotional withdrawal. Because many people with schizophrenia find their symptoms vary in frequency and intensity, this subtype is rarely used these days.
- Catatonic schizophrenia: This subtype involves physical movement as a symptom. Catatonia can be its own disorder, but people with catatonic schizophrenia often have negative symptoms of schizophrenia and are not very responsive.
Care On The Maternity Unit
Your care in labour will depend on what you and your baby need. The midwives will support you with feeding and caring for your baby.
If you have any symptoms of mental illness, a psychiatrist will see you when you are in hospital.
In some maternity units, you may see a psychiatrist or mental health nurse before you leave hospital, even if you are well. This is to check that you are well at the time you go home. They should also check the plan made at your pre-birth planning meeting. They can make sure you have any medication you need.
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How Common Is Schizophrenia
- Schizophrenia affects 20 million people worldwide.
- The annual number of new cases of schizophrenia is 1.5 per 10,000 people.
- Schizophrenia is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability worldwide.
- Approximately 5% of people with schizophrenia die by suicide, usually with a higher risk at the onset of the mental illness.
- About 20% of people with schizophrenia attempt suicide at least once.
What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia usually happens in stages, with different symptoms and behaviors depending on the stage.
- Onset . This is an early phase that happens before a person develops more severe symptoms. It can include social withdrawal, anxiety, lack of motivation and neglect of personal hygiene.
- Active. This is when psychotic symptoms take full effect. Another term for this is psychotic break, where a person shows a disconnection from reality. That includes showing at least two of the five main symptoms listed immediately below.
- Residual. People in this stage still have some schizophrenia signs and symptoms, but theyre not as severe. Odd beliefs, lack of motivation, decreased feelings of enjoyment or pleasure, limited speaking and reduced emotional expression tend to be the most noticeable effects. Many people often improve to the point where they seem mostly or fully recovered. However, this is usually temporary, and symptoms of schizophrenia will return as a person goes back into the active stage of the condition.
What are the early signs of schizophrenia?
The early symptoms of schizophrenia, which happen in the onset stage, usually arent severe enough for a schizophrenia diagnosis but are still a cause for concern. This stage sometimes happens quickly, only taking weeks before moving to the next stage.
The most common symptoms or changes in this stage include:
What are the active stage symptoms?
Are there other possible symptoms?
Lack of insight
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The 10 Most Common Signs Of Schizophrenia
Hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and behaviors knowing these signs and what they look like can be a good step toward the right treatment plan.
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition that affects a persons behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.
The condition is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability in the world. Its usually diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 30, after a person has experienced their first psychotic episode. Its rare for a young child to have schizophrenia.
But symptoms of schizophrenia develop slowly over time. You may begin to see signs in early teen years, such as:
- experiencing a significant drop in grades or job performance
- suddenly having trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
- becoming suspicious of others or having paranoid thoughts
- spending more and more time alone
- having new passionate ideas that seem strange to others
- having strange feelings or seeming like they experience no feelings at all
- having less or no interest in how they look
- finding it difficult to tell the difference between whats real and whats not real
- being unable to speak clearly or struggling to communicate with others
Symptoms usually fall into one of three categories:
People with schizophrenia have a variety of symptoms that can range in severity. The 10 most common ones are:
How Is Schizophrenia Treated
Schizophrenia is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy, tailored to each individual person.
The aim is to ease the symptoms and to cut the chances of a relapse or the return of the symptoms. Treatment options are likely to include antipsychotic medicines and/or cognitive behavioural therapy .
Antipsychotic medications can help reduce the intensity and frequency of psychotic symptoms. They work by blocking the effect of the chemical dopamine on the brain.The choice of antipsychotics should be made following a discussion with a doctor/psychiatrist about the likely benefits and side effects, which will differ from person to person. Side effects of some medication can include weight gain, dry mouth, restlessness, and drowsiness.Most people with schizophrenia take medication for one or two years after their first psychotic episode in order to prevent further acute schizophrenic episodes occurring, and for longer if the illness is recurrent.
Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy , family therapy and arts therapy, among others, can help people cope better with their hallucinations or delusions.
There are various interventions that may be suggested to those living with schizophrenia. They could include:
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Other Family Environmental Factors
In the British 1946 Birth Cohort, schizophrenia in offspring has been linked with problems in mothers general understanding and management of their children . Goldstein concluded that communication deviance in the family increased the risk for schizophrenia. Having a positive relationship with both the mother and father might be protective against schizophrenia among high-risk children. These findings may be explained by geneenvironment interaction.
In Finnish studies some possible stress factors have not generally been linked to schizophrenia. Very early temporal separation from parents and transfer to adequate nursing homes immediately after birth because of tuberculosis in the family did not predict schizophrenia, and neither did living in a single-parent family in childhood, low socio-economic status, or the size of the family of origin and multiparity. The connection between childhood socio-economic status and schizophrenia is not yet entirely resolved. Low or high socio-economic status in the family of origin has been found to be at least a modest risk factor for schizophrenia in some studies, while other studies report no increased risk.
How Is It Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider can diagnose schizophrenia or its related disorders based on a combination of questions they ask, the symptoms you describe or by observing your actions. Theyll also ask questions to rule out causes other than schizophrenia. They then compare what they find to the criteria required for a schizophrenia diagnosis.
According to the DSM-5, a schizophrenia diagnosis requires the following:
- At least two of five main symptoms. Those symptoms, explained above, are delusions, hallucinations, disorganized or incoherent speaking, disorganized or unusual movements and negative symptoms.
- Duration of symptoms and effects. The key symptoms you have must last for at least one month. The conditions effects must also last for at least six months.
- Social or occupational dysfunction. This means the condition disrupts either your ability to work or your relationships .
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National Statistics On The Prevalence Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia stats suggest that in a given year, roughly 100,000 people will be diagnosed with this disorder in the U.S. To date, there are as many as 3.5 million cases of schizophrenia that have been diagnosed. To put these schizo statistics in context, that means that in a city of three million people, about 21,000 are living with schizophrenia. These stats dont take into account the thousands who are undiagnosed. In certain stages of the disease, it can be difficult to diagnose and many individuals may be unaware that they are suffering from any type of disorder as schizophrenia affects a persons perceptions of themselves and the world around them.
Severe Abuse In Childhood May Treble Risk Of Schizophrenia
Children who experience severe forms of abuse are around three times as likely to develop schizophrenia and related psychoses in later life compared with children who do not experience such abuse, according to a study that has brought together psychiatric data from almost 80,000 people.
The results add to a growing body of evidence that childhood maltreatment or abuse can raise the risk of developing mental illnesses in adulthood, including depression, personality disorders and anxiety.
Prof Richard Bentall of the University of Liverpools Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, who led the study, showed that the risk of developing psychosis increased in line with the amount of abuse or trauma a child had gone through, with the most severely affected children having a 50-fold increased risk compared with children who had suffered no abuse. He also showed that the type of trauma experienced in childhood affected the subsequent psychiatric symptoms later in life.
Schizophrenia occurs in around 1-3% of the population and is defined by psychiatrists as one of the most severe types of mental illness. It is characterised by hearing voices, bizarre beliefs and loss of motivation.
Its entirely possible that these changes in the brain that we see in patients are the results of their life experiences, said Bentall. But we dont know if thats the case.
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Schizophrenia Treatment And Mental Health Recovery
Schizophrenia treatment requires an all-encompassing approach, and it is important to develop a plan of care that is tailored to each persons needs. Mental health care providers and the individual needing mental health help should work together to craft this plan.
Finding the right medication is one important aspect of symptom management, but other services are also needed in order to promote mental health recovery. Rehabilitation strategies involving work, school and relationship goals are also essential and need to be addressed in creating a plan of care. Peer support learning from someone who has been thereis a growing area of the field and can also provide employment opportunities for people needing mental health help. See the mental health resources section for peer support group information.
There Are Four Different Types Of Schizophrenia
This disorder exhibits different symptoms for everyone. However, there are four major categories into which patients generally fall:
- Paranoid schizophrenia. Facts show its main characteristicsparanoia, suspicion, and fear of other peoples intentions.
- Catatonic schizophrenia. It causes people to shut down physically, as well as emotionally and mentally.
- Undifferentiated schizophrenia. It displays different symptoms, like confusion, paranoia, or abnormal behavior.
- Schizoaffective disorder. Delusions and hallucinations might come hand in hand with at least one symptom of a mood disorder, such as depression and mania.
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Deaths Related To Schizophrenia
Research indicates that people with schizophrenia are 3.5 times more likely to die than similarly aged individuals in the general population in a single year. In general, people who have schizophrenia are likely to die 25 years earlier than people in the general population. The large majority of deaths in schizophrenia patients is from natural causes other health conditions and infectious diseases. Even so, people with schizophrenia suffer elevated rates of suicide and fatal accidents. Some of these schizophrenia-related deaths are medically understandable for instance, a majority of Americans with schizophrenia smoke. Smoking, of course, is related to a heightened risk for lung and other cancers as well as cardiovascular disease.
Statistical Methods And Measurement Caveats
The prevalence rate of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders is difficult to estimate using typical household survey methods alone. Accurate assessment of schizophrenia is best achieved using clinicians trained in the diagnosis of mental illnesses. The U.S. prevalence studies cited here were selected based on their use of U.S. population samples and use of methods that involved clinical diagnosis, either via clinical reappraisal studies or clinical record studies.3,4,5
Individuals with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders may be under-counted in prevalence estimation studies. These individuals may be under-represented in household surveys because they may reside in prisons, other institutions, or may lack a permanent address. Similarly, some people with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders may not be fully reflected in medical records data because they may not have a documented diagnosis, and/or may receive little or no health care.
Information on statistical methods and measurement caveats can be found in the papers cited on this page and listed in the reference section. Below we provide additional background information for large datasets used in two studies cited on this page.3,5
National Comorbidity Survey Replication
- For more information, see PMID: 15297905.
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