Is Schizophrenia Hereditary

Is Schizophrenia Hereditary?

The question - is schizophrenia hereditary? - does not at this time have a clear cut answer. No one knows for certain what causes any of the 5 types of schizophrenia. Part of the problem lies in the fact that schizophrenia can often be misdiagnosed, since many of the seemingly obvious symptoms of schizophrenia are often symptoms of a completely different disease or disorder. It's important then to realize that simply because someone shows one of the symptoms commonly associated with schizophrenia doesn't mean they actually have the disorder. Schizophrenia can only be verified through testing.

Asking a professional who diagnoses or treats the disorder - is schizophrenia hereditary? -  will usually elicit one of these three answers:

Yes, it definitely is hereditary.

Heredity is believed to play a major role.

Heredity can sometimes be a factor, but is not the main cause.

It is a certainty that those who have family members with schizophrenia are more likely to get the disease, at least on a statistical basis. It has yet to be proven conclusively however that the disease is passed from one generation to the next, but it does often run in families, and a person who has a close relative who has schizophrenia has a about a 1 in 10 chance of getting the disease.

Another factor which suggests that schizophrenia may be hereditary is that schizophrenics are lacking in certain kinds on genetic materials that non-schizophrenics have, and the lack of these materials does appear to run in families who have experienced schizophrenia.

Environmental Considerations And Brain Chemistry - Another school of thought is that schizophrenia is largely a result of environmental conditions, one reason being that the disease is very rare in the young. The environment does extend to the womb however, and if an unborn child is exposed to an infection in the womb, or suffers from trauma, it could set the stage for an appearance of schizophrenia later in life. As far as environmental conditions are concerned, the environment does play a key role in treating schizophrenia, or keeping the symptoms of the disease within bounds.

 Brain chemistry is also believed to play a role, something which may or may not be linked to genetics. One of the strongest arguments for brain chemistry being either the cause or a cause is that medications which affect brain chemistry are often used in the treatment of the disease. Chemistry altering medications are also prescribed to keep schizophrenia, once treated and cured, from returning.

Types Of Schizophrenia - The symptoms of schizophrenia are many and varied, and their presence is usually dictated by which type of the disease one is suffering from. A person may show little or no emotion (the flat effect type) or fail to react to normal environmental stimuli (the catatonic type). The other types, in which symptoms are usually more noticeable are the delusional type, the hallucinatory type, and the type characterized by disorganized trains of thought. The schizophrenic may exhibit several symptoms, though usually those common to one type. There is a class of schizophrenics who suffer from what is called the undifferentiated schizophrenia, which is to say they may exhibit symptoms from more than one of the more commonly defined types.


Given the right medications, many schizophrenics can lead quite normal lives and fit quite nicely into society. Others may be too disabled to live alone, or present a danger to themselves or to others, and require a somewhat structured and even regimented lifestyle, often within the bounds of an institution or support facility.

Is schizophrenia hereditary? The symptoms of the disease offer few clues, though the effectiveness of some of the treatments may give an indication. It is probably safe to say that heredity often plays a role, sometimes a key role, but is not necessarily a factor in all instances of the disease, a disease which affects roughly one percent of the world's population.