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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I'm engaged to a woman who has a family history of

Customer Question

Hi my names Peter,
I'm engaged to a woman who has a family history of Schizophrenia. Her mom has it, and it appears her grand Dad too, though his story isn't clear as he died many many years ago. My fiancee is 25 and is in very good health. We have been dating for over 5 years and really are deeply in love.
My siblings have discussed with me concerning the risk of Schizophrenia, and have given me advice to break up the relationship because of her potential risk of developing schizophrenia later on in life. The disease from what i heard can really destroy/affect the life of family's who have a sick person and there is the potential risk of transferring such an ailment to my children (something personally that i would hate to see).
My parents have also given me the same advice of breaking up as we have a clean bill of mental health in my family and it would simply be unfair to bring such a gene in the family according them, especially passing it on to my generation.
My problem now is this, from the beginning of this relationship right up to the time I proposed, I never really cared so much about what they told me because I love her and still do till now. But now that I have proposed I have been tormented by fear as to whether I'm making the right decision.
I want a happy family life, I want a woman that I can hopefully grow old with and live a loving life with. This has always been my dream.
I have been asking myself if I do go ahead and marry her and later on in life she happens to get this disease would i be able to cope? wouldnt all my dreams and aspirations have been shattered? I'm not sure I could cope seeing her break down. That would really break my heart.
I read that there is about a 15% chance of her catching it, she did also me tell she had a difficult childhood because of her mom's condition but in her teenage years she resolved to be positive about life and never allowed her mum's experience affect her.
Am I over worrying, am I panicking too much, is marrying her a potential risk to my family life. Should ignore the advice from people who I know love me and follow my instincts and take the risk?
Finally are they steps for preventing her from getting the disease. I'm confused I need your advice because most people i discuss this with are telling me to find a polite way to end the relationship. I dont want to live a life of regret that I didnt listen to my friends if (God forbid) I marry her and something happens.
And then my friends will be like I told you so. Im not a heart breaker too, I dont want to break her heart.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice in a Q&A format. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for using JustAnswer. I definitely understand your concern regarding this situation, but I also want to reassure you concerning one thing that the risk of your fiance getting Schizophrenia is 5-10 percent, not 15 percent. This is what longitudinal research has shown based on the fact that your fiance's mother and possibly her grand-father may have had it (but if her grand-father started to act odd in his later years than it could have been psychosis related to dementia). But as of right now the risk is 5-10 percent. Also given that your fiance is 25 years old with no manifestations of the disorder is a good sign as the average age for women manifesting Schizophrenia is 25 years old, so every year from now until she reaches 30 the chance of Schizophrenia lessens. After 30 years old the chance of Schizophrenia is very low to the less than 1 percent variable that every individual shares, so statistically she would be no different than you or I.

I believe you should not end the relationship based on this possibility that she may develop Schizophrenia and as of right now it is a very low possibility where there is a 90-95 percent chance she is not going to manifest any symptoms of this disorder. It is true that even with medications the well being of a person with Schizophrenia is diminished and most of them cannot lead a well adjusted life because of the symptoms and the side effects of the medications, but your family is concerned about a really low chance of her getting this disease. I know your family has your best interests at heart, but I also think they are biased here just by the name "schizophrenia" and are not quite looking at this can listen to your friends and family, but the decision is up to you on the risk and benefits. At this point I think the benefits of a good marriage with someone you love outweigh the potential 5-10 percent risk, which like I said will lessen every year until after 30 years of age where he likelihood of developing Schizophrenia will be the same as yours and every other person on the planet.

Lastly you asked if there was any way to prevent the risk of developing Schizophrenia, unfortunately there is not and that is because we are not even sure what causes this disorder, so we have no way of preventing it or curing it at this time.

I hope this helps to give you a different perspective and I truly wish you all the best no matter what you decide.

Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

I hope this answers your questions and gives you some guidance on this issue. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to assist and support you regarding this issue.

*Please do not forget to leave a positive rating at the top of the page so that I can get credit for helping you. Thank you, ***** ***** appreciate it.