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Conditions You Might Have With Schizophrenia

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Casarella, MD on March 09, 2021

Schizophrenia has a whole range of symptoms that can affect your day-to-day life. You might hear or see things that aren't real, or have trouble speaking or thinking clearly.

Schizophrenia on its own can be a challenge. But it often happens together with other disorders, which can complicate treatment.

At least half of people with schizophrenia also have one or more other mental health conditions, such as depression or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Many people haven't been diagnosed with these other conditions.

If you think you or a loved one might have one of these common mental health issues that affect people with schizophrenia, see your doctor to find out if you need more treatment.

Depression

About 40% of people with schizophrenia are also depressed, and about 80% will have at least one serious episode of depression.

Depression involves feelings of sadness, a loss of interest, low energy, and other symptoms that reduce your enjoyment of life. When you're depressed, you have feelings like these for most of the day on almost every day.

Untreated depression can affect your quality of life and relationships. You might stop taking your antipsychotic medicine because of it, which could make schizophrenia worse. People who also have depression are more likely to have a relapse of psychotic symptoms, and they're at higher risk for suicide.

It's important to get treated if you feel down. Treatment for depression usually combines antidepressant drugs with therapy. Your doctor can tell you whether this or another approach might work best for you.

Substance Abuse

Almost half of people with schizophrenia also have problems with alcohol, tobacco, and drugs like cocaine and marijuana. Their rate of substance abuse is much higher than in the general population.

People use drugs or alcohol to manage their mental illness, but it doesn't help. In fact, substance abuse could make schizophrenia symptoms even worse.

The same antipsychotic medicines that treat schizophrenia might help reduce your dependence on drugs. There are also other medicines and therapies that can help. Programs that treat mental disorders and substance abuse at the same time can also help. Ask your doctor to recommend one of these programs near you.

Anxiety Disorders

Up to 65% of people with schizophrenia have some form of anxiety. Hallucinations and other schizophrenia symptoms can make you feel anxious because the world around you looks strange and confusing.

Anxiety can become severe enough to be considered an anxiety disorder. One of the most common anxiety disorders to affect people with schizophrenia is social anxiety disorder (SAD). It's a fear of social situations that leads to anxiety and avoidance.

Other anxiety disorders that are common with schizophrenia include:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is the urge to repeat the same behaviors over and over -- like cleaning constantly or locking the door over and over.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is severe anxiety and flashbacks that stem from living through a traumatic and frightening event such as a rape or assault.

Generalized anxiety disorder is constant worry and anxiety that are hard to control.

Panic disorder causes bouts of intense fear, called panic attacks.

Having anxiety plus schizophrenia can lead to other problems, including depression and suicide. Schizophrenia symptoms like hallucinations and delusions can sometimes hide anxiety and make it harder to diagnose. Once you do get a diagnosis, therapy and medicines can help control your anxiety.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

National Institute of Mental Health: "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder," “Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms,” "Schizophrenia."

Psychiatry Online: "Psychiatric and General Medical Conditions Comorbid with Schizophrenia in the National Hospital Discharge Survey."

Mayo Clinic: "Depression (major depressive disorder)," "Generalized anxiety disorder," "Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)," "Social anxiety disorder (Social phobia)."

Schizophrenia Bulletin: "Depression and Schizophrenia: Cause, Consequence, or Transdiagnostic Issue?" "Substance Use Disorders in Schizophrenia -- Clinical Implications of Comorbidity."

Living with Schizophrenia: "Depression and Schizophrenia."

National Institute on Drug Abuse: "Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness."

National Alliance on Mental Illness: "Substance Use Disorders."

CNS Drugs: Anxiety in Patients with Schizophrenia: Epidemiology and Management."

Schizophrenia Research and Treatment: "A Possible Link Between Anxiety and Schizophrenia and a Possible Role of Anhedonia."

Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience: “Social anxiety disorder in schizophrenia: a neglected, yet potentially important comorbidity.”

Industrial Psychiatry Journal: “Prevalence of comorbid anxiety disorders in schizophrenia.”

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