Schizophrenia and ADHD

We all know that the cause(s) of schizophrenia are relatively unknown. What we have been able to do is to pinpoint risk factors that are related to the onset of schizophrenia. The few major ones are family history, exposure to viruses, toxins or malnutrition in the womb, increased immune system activation (autoimmune diseases), older age of the father and mind-altering drug use. In addition to these there are links between other psychiatric disorders and the development of schizophrenia. This is probably not a cause, but more likely a sign of future risk. One of these disorders is ADHD. The two diseases are remarkably similar in how they function. Most of the symptoms of ADHD are present in the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. ADHD is generally a childhood disorder that is undiagnosed and misdiagnosed frequently. Relatives of those with schizophrenia typically have attentional deficits. A study done by Matcheri Keshavan, a professor of psychiatry at Pittsburgh Medical Center, found that the development of ADHD in a child with already increased risk factors for schizophrenia may be a signal for the future development of schizophrenia. One of the key links appears to be the increased an abnormal levels of dopamine with both disorders. Most children diagnosed with ADHD are placed on a stimulant medication to cope with the symptoms of the disorder. While this appears to be a reasonable part of the solution to ADHD, it introduces potential dangers to those at risk of developing schizophrenia. One of the substances documented to possibly induce psychosis is amphetamines. Dr. Nora Volkow studied PET scans of how methylphenidate (a commonly prescribed ADHD medication). The power of the medication was comparable to the effects of cocaine. These substances (ADHD meds) are powerful and considered very dangerous to people with anxiety, mania or psychosis. Yet, we continually prescribe them for ADHD which may be a gateway disorder or a masking diagnosis for more serious future issues.





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