Do I have bipolar disorder because my father had schizophrenia?

According to researchers at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may have common genetic causes. Researchers studied 9 million Swedish people during a 30-year period and discovered that "relatives of people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder had an increased risk of both disorders." The study may also suggest that "the two conditions may simply be different manifestations of the same disease."

The article from Reuters also points out that Seroquel and Zyprexa are used to treat both disorders, which may lead people in the psychiatric industry to further investigate the link between the two illnesses. Here are some interesting discoveries from the study:

 *  First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or offspring) of people with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder were at increased risk for both of these conditions.

 * If a sibling had schizophrenia, full siblings were nine times more likely than the general population to have schizophrenia and four times more likely to have bipolar disorder.

 * If a sibling had bipolar disorder, they were eight times more likely to have bipolar disorder and four times more likely to have schizophrenia.

 * Half siblings who shared the same mother were 3.6 times more likely to have schizophrenia if their half sibling had schizophrenia and 4.5 times more likely to have bipolar disorder if their half sibling had bipolar disorder. Half siblings who shared the same father had a 2.7-fold increase in schizophrenia risk and a 2.4-fold increase in bipolar disorder.

 * Adopted children with a biological parent with one of the disorders had a significant increase in risk for the other.

Creepy. My father's schizophrenia didn't begin to manifest itself until he was in his 40s. The same is true for my two other aunts as well. It may be silly but I live in fear that I may have the same problem. I'll eventually get a psychiatric advance directive in place just in case that day ever comes. After seeing three family members with debilitating schizophrenia/paranoia, sometimes it gets to the point where the benefits of being drugged up outweigh the risks.

Mood rating: 6


  1. Ana said,

    January 19, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    “…also points out that Seroquel and Zyprexa are used to treat both disorders, which may lead people in the psychiatric industry to further investigate the link between the two illnesses…”
    It’s getting more and more strange.
    Instead of studding patients to find a possible drug they are trying to explain the diseases according to the drugs that are supposed to treat.

  2. August 1, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Hey there, I walk the tightrope between sanity and insanity. In short I’m schizophrenic. I’m not too keen on scientific babble on genes, prescription drug fever and other white coat remedies. I feel there’s a balance to be found between the right type of psychotherapy and drug treatment. The harsh reality is, I along with other schizphrenics are too expensive to treat with therapy.. Thus, I try and chronicle my life through a blog. This will be my first attempt at hitting the condition head on. I’m pretty frightened by it, but heck another world revolution at this stage in my life won’t make much difference. Wishing you all the best. Outerhebridies.

  3. mindfreedomvirginia said,

    September 8, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Having known people receiving overtime multiple diagnoses over time that ranged from schizophrenia to schizo-affective disorder to bipolar disorder, as well as other even more disparate disorders, I think there must be some pretty confused doctors out there. Well, finding a genetic link between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder probably helps some confused psychiatrists feel better about their job, doncha think?

  4. November 3, 2010 at 3:35 pm


    I am a medical student (key word student) and I found this article really interesting. However, I think it should be noted that the two disorders are incredibly different and it is rare for someone with bipolar disorder to develop schizophrenia or vice versa. People with bipolar disorder, especially type II, are very capable of living day to day without assistance and can (aka, correctly decide what is reality). Schizophrenia is a disorder commonly associated with debilitating hallucinations and psychotic periods (cannot ‘reality test’). For every paper that says there is a possible genetic link to these disorders, I have found just as many papers practically saying there is not due to inability to reproduce results. We have not in the medical practice established a genome/gene(s) for either disorder. Personally, I believe Virginia is correct.

    Thank you and may you be at peace.

    • Kass said,

      November 15, 2010 at 7:21 pm

      Thank you for your input. I appreciate it.

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