Can Being Diagnosed With OCD Increase Your Risk of Schizophrenia?

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New data published in the latest edition of JAMA Psychiatry may suggest that a diagnosis of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) could be associated with increased risk for schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

“Despite the fact that our results indicate putative overlapping etiological factors of OCD and schizophrenia or schizophrenia spectrum disorders, they do not necessarily suggest that these disorders should be aggregated into one global diagnosis,” the researchers wrote. “However, given these findings and the fact that OCD and schizophrenia co-occur with one another at a higher rate than would be expected in the general population, the phenotypes of these disorders are potentially more similar than currently acknowledged.”

The findings come from a prospective cohort study of 3 million people born between 1955 and Nov. 30, 2006, and followed up from 1995 to Dec. 21, 2012. The study aimed to evaluate whether an OCD diagnosis increased the risk for developing schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The researchers also evaluated whether a family history of OCD increased the risk.

“Our findings indicate that OCD, schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disorders might share etiological risk factors,” the researchers wrote. “A significantly elevated risk of schizophrenia and schizophrenia spectrum disorders was observed in association with a prior diagnosis of OCD in the patients or their parents. Future research is needed to disentangle which genetic and environmental risk factors are truly common to OCD and schizophrenia or schizophrenia spectrum disorders.”

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