Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

schizophrenia..........................just how genetically passed on can it be????????

(50 Posts)
psychomum5 Fri 19-Sep-08 21:53:07

many of you may know that my mother is schizophrenic, and how much I fret over it.


a friend has started going on about her neighbour, who is 'bipolar', and her neighbours daughter, who is 17 and apparently also now DX with 'bipolar'.

the reasons for my '' marks is that my friend has heard that schizophrenia is now called 'bipolar' (not as far as I know) and that is 100% hereditary.

I thought not, altho I did know that if there is mental illness in the family you are pre-disposed to it, in the same way as allergies and cancer..........IE, you may get it, you may not, the % is higher tho. (IYGWIM).

I am just fretting tho, even more now. is this true, or is she reading it wrong.

or am I in denial thro sheer terror<<possible>>

I am really low today, and I think it is that what my friend has claimed is playing on my mind.

I am not bouncy, I am scared, and most scared for my children.

((probably completely irrational, but it is nearing visiting time with my mother and I get like this.......cannot stop it thohmm))

hester Fri 19-Sep-08 22:06:22

Well, I'm not a psychiatrist, so these are only my thoughts, but I was looking at the psychiatric disorder classification system (as you do) the other day and schizophrenia was definitely down in a separate category from bipolar.

I would completely agree with you that schizophrenia has a hereditary component BUT it is also about nurture, life stresses, individual resilience, substance misuse etc. Most people with a schizophrenic parent do not develop schizophrenia. My mum's best friend is lifelong schizophrenic; none of her children have mental health problems, none of her grandchildren have mental health problems.

I'm so sorry your friend was so insensitive. The odds are on your side. There is a lot you can do, through good parenting, to teach your children resilience and other lifeskills which will help improve their chances still further of staying well.

psychomum5 Fri 19-Sep-08 22:18:18


I needed to hear that TBH, and from a 'thrid party' as it were, simply as I now would not believe anyone close to me as I think they are just telling me what I want to hear IYGWIM.

I did not really understand why she said that 'bipolar' and schizophrenia are one and the same. is she implying schizophrenia is not as bad as they say, or that bipolar is worsehmm <<genuine confusion>>

or that when I say about my mum I am making it up and that it think it is worse than it is???

cannot be worse, my mum is in a home and will be for the remainder of her life, and has been since I was a baby.....bipolar is a form of depression AFAIK and so can be treated as such!


I am spiralling really right now, so my head is not rational about it. I am so scared of my mum and ending up like her tho, that comments like this really hurt.

TotalChaos Fri 19-Sep-08 22:20:45

a real friend shouldn't speak such misinformed bollocks. bipolar is definitely not the same as schizophrenia (she is probably muddling it with manic depression).

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Fri 19-Sep-08 22:22:28

bipolar is the new name for manic-depression.

There is a heredity element to schizophrenia (and gut issues too). And there is a heredity element to bipolar (gosh there is to everything really). If you're concerned talk to your GP, but I think schizophrenia often starts in your 20's and iirc you're older!

psychomum5 Fri 19-Sep-08 22:25:14

but surely even manic depression is not the same either.

in my eyes, (and I know they are 'coloured' because of my background), but saying that bipolar is schizophrenia is manic depression is like saying that a sneeze is a cold is flu, is pnuemonia.(IYGWIM)

the only thing in common is that each is a mental health illness!!!

onepieceoflollipop Fri 19-Sep-08 22:26:30

psychomum I am not a doctor but I am a mental health nurse.

I am always a bit hmm by some of the advice people are given by "well meaning" neighbours/friends/ils etc.

I would recommend this website here

I find it explains things well and often recommend it to student nurses to look at for an overview of different illnesses.


TotalChaos Fri 19-Sep-08 22:26:52

what I meant was that she had heard at some point that bipolar = manic depression, and had got mixed up and thought bipolar = schizophrenia.

psychomum5 Fri 19-Sep-08 22:29:04

I 35(shock.....when did I get that old!!!!)

thing is, talking to my docs really is not fair....the amount of time I need for this is over and above what the doc can give me.....realistically speaking.

I think, in all honesty, I KNOW all this, it is just the way she said it, at the time of year when I know I have to go visit, and right now when I have extra pressure from the entire family to become her 'gardian' ((not sure, but essentially I am going to have to be the one in charge of her money and benefits etc....????)).

in a quandry basically, and this is not helping!

psychomum5 Fri 19-Sep-08 22:33:48

totalchaos, thankyou.....I see what you mean know. know, I have never really been given anything directly about mental health and who it affects. I have just read up online of the netdoc type places. thankyou for that link

Poledra Fri 19-Sep-08 22:35:22

Bipolar disorder is the more accurate term for manic depression. It is distinct from schizophrenia. The relative risk of developing either of these disorders is increased when you have a first-degree relative who suffers from it; it is increased even more if your identical twin suffers from it. So, the incidence of schizophrenia in the genenral population is However, it is still possible to develop these mental illnesses when there is no history of them in your family.

On a small point, there is research suggesting that there is overlap between the genetic loci involved in familial schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but this does not suggest that they are the same disorder.

Like all illnesses, each individual is affected differently and to a different degree; bipolar can be as debilitating a disorder as schizophrenia and equally, both may be controlled by medication.

hester Fri 19-Sep-08 22:35:27

Bipolar and schizophrenia are both psychotic disorders, and can be more or less severe. One is not 'worse' than the other, as I understand it (have i got that right, onepiece?). It's perfectly possible to have one schizophrenic episode, get good treatment, recover and live a healthy happy life. by no means all people with schizophrenia go on to suffer as your mum has. There is a big emphasis these days on detecting schizophrenia early as that can make a big difference to the severity and endurance of the condition.

Schizophrenia usually (not always) develops when young - around early 20s.

Give yourself a big hug, psychomum - it's terrible to have your mum go through this, but it's not a script for you and your kids.

onepieceoflollipop Fri 19-Sep-08 22:37:33

Also psychomum some GPs allow you to book a double slot (so you get wow 10 minutes instead of the usual 5 but better than nothing) if you tell the receptionist you have something complex to discuss that may take a bit longer.

If you are really worried you could always tell the GP briefly about your family history and other concerns and ask if he/she would consider referring you as a one off to see a psychiatrist or for an assessment with your local mental health team.

That is part of my role (well our team's role) we often assess people in a similar position to you. An assessment with a mental health professional (usually nurse or social worker) would give you maybe an hour to talk about all this and perhaps clarify your thoughts.

onepieceoflollipop Fri 19-Sep-08 22:40:08

hester bipolar illness is not necessarily a psychotic illness ime.

Also if someone only has one "schizophrenic episode" nowadays this is more likely to be labelled/described as a "psychotic episode" rather than giving a person a lifelong label of schizophrenia. (which as you so rightly say is often first noticed when someone is in their early twenties)

psychomum5 Fri 19-Sep-08 22:41:31

thankyou all for the reassurance (and the hug hester, most needed).......I need it tonight.

my mum is/was very unlucky. she developed hers thro drug use. whether she was genetically predisposed and the drugs made it worse, or whether the drugs caused it we will never know, but the drugs were almost certainly the reason for her to have been alost untreatable.

she has been ill with it since I was 18mths, and it has been something that has coloured my life completely since.....even to my aunt (her sister) blaming me for the reason of her getting itangry

most of the time I get on with my life, minor issues with it, but mainly it is at the back of my mind....and then.....................days like this and comments like this and on top, I know I have to visit her soon.....and so I spirall and get scared more than is ok!


hester Fri 19-Sep-08 22:41:32

Oh ok, thanks onepiece - you may have just stopped me from showing myself up in RL grin

PotPourri Fri 19-Sep-08 22:43:53

Not read full thread. But isn't bipolar manic depressive? Ie extreme highs then extreme lows? Surely that is different from schizoprenia.

and my understanding was that it is not hereditary, perhaps environmental though....? But I am no expert.

hester Fri 19-Sep-08 22:45:11

And psychomum - angry at your aunt and sad for you. What a lot you've put up with; I'm not surprised it all surfaces on low days.

Really hope things feel a bit brighter for you after a good night's sleep.

onepieceoflollipop Fri 19-Sep-08 22:46:35

hester, are you a student nurse? (knowing my luch you are a Consultant Psych and I have just shown myself up big time! grin)

psychomum, my theory is that your mum's illness may well have been triggered through drug use. However ime, if she was already predisposed to it, it is almost certain that had she not used drugs, then at some point it would have been triggered by something else.

Mental illness puts a real strain on a whole family. of course it is at the back of your mind. I hope you find the support and reassurance you need in rl too. x

I have seen some of your incredibly supportive and kind posts to others who are struggling and you are a lovely person to show such care to others when at times you are struggling yourself.

PotPourri Fri 19-Sep-08 22:46:47

I know a family where the dad was schizophrenic, and the step son has mental health problems - clearly no genetic link there. Perhaps coincidence, perhaps enviro

ButtonMeUp Fri 19-Sep-08 22:49:13

just wanted to echo what other posters have said but also that schizophrenia.psychosis can also be triggered by drugs and alcohol, so if there is a family history of mental illness it is important to be extra careful in terms of substances.

Poledra Fri 19-Sep-08 22:51:26

Oh Psychomum, you've had some terrible things to get through. But you have, and you're a poster I look forward to seeing as I enjoy your outlook on things.

Hope things look brighter in the morning.

onepieceoflollipop Fri 19-Sep-08 22:51:50

PotPourri there is at least a 1 in 100 statistical chance of any of us having schizophrenia. Also "common" mental health problems (such as depression) are estimated to affect at least one in four of us.

ButtonMeUp I have not heard of schizophrenia psychosis being triggered by alcohol; I would be interested to read more about that if you have more information?

psychomum5 Fri 19-Sep-08 22:52:06

hester I will be fine....I always am, I just have my 'moment', get reassurance, and get up again!

lollipop, thankyou. like I said to hester above, I am fine. I try not to let it get to me, but it does make me who I am and so is 'there' middlng along in the background.

it is always my big fear likely am I to be like my mother, or how likely are my children likely to be like her??

of course, should anything arise in my children, treatments are so much better now that it won;t effect their lives in the way it has my mothers and mine, I just see how bad my mum is, how much she has lost, how mush I have lost (being selfish[blush), and I get scared.

give me a month, get me past my mother's birthday and the visit, and will be fine againwink

PotPourri Fri 19-Sep-08 22:54:50

Big hugs. It's so upsetting when people make comments like your neighbour without thinking of how it could affect you.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: