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ADHD and Schizophrenia

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that causes behavioral problems in kids and adults. These issues include hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattentiveness. The neurodevelopmental disorder typically is diagnosed before the age of 12. Fortunately, most individuals describe that their symptoms start to improve with age, but others may continue to deal with symptoms as adults.

ADHD is much more common in young boys than it is in girls, but the prevalence evens out in adulthood. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study in 2016 that estimates 6.1 million children in the United States received an ADHD diagnosis. 

Schizophrenia is a sometimes severe long-term mental health condition that affects how someone feels, thinks, and behaves. It can involve psychosis and other symptoms, which may include inattention. This disorder is more common in men than women, and the symptoms will appear around the ages of 16 and 30 years. In some cases, however, it can appear in childhood.The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) describes that nearly one percent of the U.S. population struggles with the disorder. Some studies show similarities between the two conditions, and researchers include the following:

  • Individuals with schizophrenia display symptoms of other psychiatric disorders that include ADHD during early adolescence.
  • Children and young teens with ADHD may be 4.3 times more likely to develop schizophrenia as adults.
  • Close relatives of individuals with ADHD are more likely than second-degree relatives to receive a schizophrenia diagnosis, which shows there may be a genetic component involved.

What Causes ADHD & Schizophrenia?

The exact causes are not clear, but some experts turn to a combination of genetics and environmental factors that increase the risk of someone developing one of the conditions. Someone with specific genetic features may develop symptoms if they encounter particular triggers, whether the exposure occurs before birth, or during adolescence.

Factors that Contribute to ADHD

Some of the factors that may contribute to the development of ADHD include:

  • Genetics: ADHD typically runs in families
  • Environment: Exposure to toxic materials as a fetus may increase the risk
  • Development: Problems in the central nervous system (CNS) at crucial stages of development can result in ADHD

Factors that Contribute to Schizophrenia

The most common factors that may increase the likelihood of someone developing schizophrenia include:

  • Genetics: Genetics appear to play a significant role, and having a family member with schizophrenia may increase your risk.
  • Brain development: Some studies point to individuals with schizophrenia showing subtle differences in their brain structure.
  • Neurotransmitters: An imbalance between serotonin and dopamine may have a connection with schizophrenia. Drugs that alter the levels of these two chemicals can relieve schizophrenia symptoms.
  • Pregnancy and birth complications: A baby born with a low birth weight, premature labor, or insufficient oxygen levels are more likely to be affected by schizophrenia as adults.

The only way to determine if you are struggling with these conditions is to reach out for help. A doctor will run a series of tests to find out if the symptoms you complain of stem from either of these disorders.

Sources

Medical News Today. What has ADHD to do with schizophrenia?. Nichols, H., Legg, T. Ph.D., CRNP (January 3, 2019) from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314464.php

U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Data and Statistics About ADHD. Facts about ADHD. (October 15, 2019) from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html

Medical News Today. Understanding the symptoms of schizophrenia. Newman, T., Legg, T. Ph.D., CRNP (December 7, 2019) from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/36942.php

National Alliance on Mental Health. Schizophrenia. (n.d.) from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia

U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institute of Health. et al. Association between Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in childhood and schizophrenia later in adulthood. Dalsgaard S., Mortensen PB, Frydenberg M., Maibing CM, Nordentoft M., Thomsen PH. (September 7, 2013) from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24016863/

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