Hi, I have had OCD since I was 9 years old. I am 21 now, and fortunately it is much more controlled. However, when I was younger, I developed an intense paranoia of schizophrenia. I didn’t know that I had OCD until I was 19, so the whole time I thought that my weird thoughts were simply representative of a future schizophrenic outbreak. In high school I was a very paranoid person and I was always consumed by a pervasive fear that I was going crazy. This fear led me to pay an obsessive amount of attention to my weird thoughts, which led to further analysis of how I truly believed that I was going crazy. But now that I am aware of my mental condition, I have learned to control my anxieties better.
However, being a Psychology major, I have exposure to information on Schizophrenia and so I have learned more of the risk factors involved. Subsequently, my fears have resurfaced. One of the risk factors is old paternal age and my dad was 50 years old when he had me. I’ve read that this increases my chance by three times. Also, I’ve learned that smoking cannabis is also a risk factor if there is already a predisposition. When I was eighteen, I smoked a lot of marijuana, for approximately one year. Although my current fear has not amounted to that paralyzing feeling I often felt in high school, I am becoming more and more concerned about this issue. I really am very scared that I will get schizophrenia and often, I can’t get it off my mind. I know that this fear might just be a symptom of my OCD, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I have a higher chance of getting schizophrenia.
Let’s think about this from a strictly logical, reality-based perspective. There is a low probability that you will develop schizophrenia but that fear has turned into an obsession. There is an equal or greater probability that you will develop many, many, other diseases but you aren’t worried about those disorders. Why not? If you are worried about schizophrenia, then you should also be worried about the thousands of other possible diseases and accidents that have an equal or greater possibility of occurring.
The probability, over a lifetime, of dying in a car accident is approximately 1 in 100. The chances of your developing schizophrenia are similar to dying in a car crash, yet you worry about the schizophrenia and not the car crash. Technically, you should also be concerned about dying in a car accident. There are many things that one could worry about and it is illogical to worry about one thing and not all things that are equally probable.
Millions of individuals have relatives with schizophrenia. They have an increased likelihood of developing the disorder but the vast majority of at-risk individuals do not develop schizophrenia. You are focused on the small probability that you will develop this disorder and are essentially ignoring the more likely outcome that you will not develop this disorder. That is not balanced thinking.
The key characteristic of schizophrenia is the inability to think logically. Your letter indicates that you are able to think quite logically. You are constantly analyzing your own thinking and seem to be cognitively functioning at a high level.
One of the keys to decreasing or eliminating your anxiety is to focus on reality. The probability that you will develop schizophrenia is very low. Thus, your anxiety or level of concern should be equally as low.
If OCD continues to be a problem in your life then you should consider psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy could be very beneficial to you. If you’d like to search for a therapist in your community, please click on the find help tab at top of this page. I wish you well. Please take care.