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Are PTSD and Schizophrenia Linked?

The Mayo Clinic defines post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event. The individual may experience or witness this event and will have severe anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts as a result. 

Most individuals who experience trauma have a hard time adjusting and coping, but this is often temporary. With some time and good self-care, they will get better. Unfortunately, those with PTSD will watch their symptoms worsen, which can last for months or even years. In some cases, it interferes with daily functioning.

Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is a severe mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Although researchers have found a link that PTSD may be hereditary, it can only occur from traumatic events. Schizophrenia causes hallucinations, delusions, and distorted thinking that impairs daily functioning. 

Individuals with schizophrenia require treatment for the rest of their lives, and early treatment will aid in getting their symptoms under control before they experience severe complications. Due to the severity of the condition, you may wonder if something like PTSD can spark schizophrenia. Are PTSD and schizophrenia linked? Let’s take a look at the research.

The Relationship Between PTSD and Schizophrenia

Post-traumatic stress disorder and symptoms of psychosis often occur together. PTSD is described in four clusters. These include avoidance symptoms, re-experiencing symptoms, hyperarousal symptoms, and negative changes in mood and brain function. 

Schizophrenia is considered one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses, and it’s not surprising for people to have both PTSD and schizophrenia. As we’ve discussed above, PTSD occurs after traumatic experience happen. Still, it has been found that traumatic experiences are more likely to happen to those with schizophrenia than in the general population. 

A National Institutes of Health study found that there is a significant genetic overlap between PTSD and schizophrenia. 

Treatment for both disorders is imperative, but some physicians are apprehensive about using conventional approaches. When using exposure therapy for PTSD, it may not be the best approach for someone with schizophrenia because therapy will worsen symptoms of schizophrenia. Some evidence has shown that well-thought-out treatment may reduce PTSD symptoms. 

If you are struggling with a combination of the two, it’s crucial that you find a physician who specializes in both treatments. It will allow you to have a tailored experience that helps your specific needs.

How to Treat PTSD and Schizophrenia

Find a doctor who specializes in this therapy to help you overcome your symptoms and live a functioning life. The first step is to make the right diagnosis. A doctor lacking experience in this area could provide you with the wrong diagnosis, and by determining which condition the patient has, or whether they have both, is crucial in the treatment approach. 

Since we all have unique characteristics, treatment approaches will differ among individuals. You must look for help immediately to get your symptoms under control.

Sources

Duncan, L. E., Ratanatharathorn, A., Aiello, A. E., Almli, L. M., Amstadter, A. B., Ashley-Koch, A. E., … Koenen, K. C. (2018, March). Largest GWAS of PTSD (N=20 070) yields genetic overlap with schizophrenia and sex differences in heritability. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28439101

Tull, M. (2019, August 15). Hallucinations and Delusions Can Affect People With PTSD. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/relationship-between-ptsd-and-psychotic-symptoms-2797525

Schizophrenia. (2018, April 10). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354449

Schizophrenia. (2018, April 10). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (2018, July 6). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

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