Is There A Link Between Schizophrenia And Dementia?

Schizophrenia and dementia are conditions that are both associated with the brain. While they have some similar symptoms, they are quite different conditions. 

Dementia is a general term for a group of disorders triggered by changes in the brain that lead to reduced cognitive skills. Dementia also impacts feelings, behavior, and relationships (via the Alzheimer's Association). On the other hand, according to the American Psychiatric Association, schizophrenia is a brain disorder where someone will experience symptoms that include delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech, among others. The 2 conditions also differ as far as when they typically begin to develop. Schizophrenia tends to appear in people during their 20s and 30s, whereas most people are diagnosed with late-onset Alzheimer's beginning in their 60s. However, it is also possible for people to experience symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's. This can begin as early as a person's mid-30s (via the National Institute on Aging).

Despite the fact that schizophrenia and Alzheimer's are different health issues, is it possible that there could be a link between the 2, given that both have a connection to the brain?

What research shows about the link between schizophrenia and dementia

According to Healthline, dementia and schizophrenia do have some links, such as shared symptoms, including hallucinations and withdrawal from loved ones and activities. Those with schizophrenia also experience paranoia, which individuals with dementia may also sometimes experience.

Some research has also indicated that those diagnosed with schizophrenia may be predisposed to developing dementia compared to people who do not have schizophrenia. A 2018 study published in the journal European Psychiatry concluded that schizophrenia was meaningfully linked to a higher risk of dementia. A 2019 study published in Psychological Medicine also uncovered a connection between dementia and psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, in otherwise healthy older men. Besides the symptoms of schizophrenia itself, researchers believe that common behaviors associated with schizophrenia, such as alcohol abuse, smoking, and lack of exercise, may also contribute to a higher risk of developing dementia.

Health experts are not yet clear on ways you can prevent either schizophrenia or dementia. However, there are treatments for schizophrenia that can help manage the condition, such as antipsychotic medications and cognitive behavior therapy. You can reduce your risk of developing dementia by adjusting your lifestyle to maintain a healthy weight, refrain from smoking and excessive alcohol, and stay active (via Healthline).