Are OCD and Schizophrenia are Linked?

A new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that individuals who have been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are more likely to develop schizophrenia.

The study was led by Sandra M. Meier, PhD, of the Aarhus University in Denmark and found that OCD and schizophrenia tend to occur in adolescence or early adulthood. The researchers state, “”it is no surprise that obsessive-compulsive and schizophrenic symptoms coexist in a greater proportion of patients than would be expected by chance.”

The researchers analyzed data from Danish national registers of more than 3 million people who were born between 1955 and 2006. After 12 years of follow-up, 16,231 individuals developed schizophrenia, and of this group, 447 had a prior OCD diagnosis. Furthermore, of the 30,566 people who developed schizophrenia spectrum disorder, 700 had a prior OCD diagnosis.

The researchers conclude that a previous diagnosis of OCD may be linked to an increased risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. Even though schizophrenia and OCD share many of the same characteristics, researchers do not believe they should be combined as one universal diagnosis. The researchers add, “Further 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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