Is schizophrenia hereditary?


Schizophrenia is a mental illness that typically shows up in late adolescence or early adulthood and can be difficult to diagnose.

Studies on identical twins have shown that schizophrenia is not entirely a genetic-based disease, but it does have components that are hereditary in nature.

The role of genes

Several studies have shown that having certain gene variations can dispose a person to developing schizophrenia. Gene variations can be passed down from mother and father to child, so a genetic component may contribute to the onset of the illness. The more gene variations linked to schizophrenia a person has — researchers say there are currently about 10 known variations — the greater the risk of developing symptoms.


A person with gene variations who is then exposed to environmental factors associated with the disease, like extremely high-stress experiences in childhood or teenage drug use, might have a greater likelihood of developing schizophrenia, too.

Family history

Knowing your family history can help you determine what risk factors might be present, says Robin Bennet, a genetics counselor and manager of the Medical Genetics Clinics at the University of Washington in Seattle. This can help you determine whether or not you should get medically screened for schizophrenia. It's also important to share this type of information with your doctor and to consider it when in the stages of family planning.


While schizophrenia may develop regardless of interventions, some experts believe it is a condition like diabetes — with enough knowledge and preparation, one may be able to reduce the risk of developing the condition or minimize symptoms if the disease had already manifested.