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"Are anxiety and schizophrenia related?"
My uncle was a paranoid schizophrenic, and he also had a serious anxiety disorder. I know that puts me in a higher risk category for having schizophrenia myself, and I want to be very cautious. If I have anxiety problems, does that mean I'm also at risk for schizophrenia? Are they related in that way?
It is true anxiety and schizophrenia do commonly run together. Often schizophrenia can be confused with anxiety disorders early in the course of the disease. However, anxiety disorders are far more common than schizophrenia. So even if you do suffer from anxiety, there is a greater chance that it is unrelated to schizophrenia. There is some evidence that some patients who are susceptible to developing schizophrenia do so after a highly stressful life event. For this reason I suggest that you have your anxiety managed by a physician, especially if it is interfering with your life. As you know, schizophrenia is a disorder of cognition and can effect a persons perception of reality. Symptoms include social withdrawal, paranoia of being watched or followed, and audio hallucinations. While schizophrenia does have a genetic component to it, most relatives of schizophrenics never develop the disease. This means that statistically, you are much more likely not to develop it. I suggest you schedule frequent (every 3-6 months) visits with your primary care physician and express your concern to him or her. The two of you working together can watch out for signs and symptoms so that you can get early psychiatric referral if it ever becomes necessary. Good luck.
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