MS and a Type of Schizophrenia May Belong to the Same Class of Disorders, Review Concludes

MS and a Type of Schizophrenia May Belong to the Same Class of Disorders, Review Concludes

Striking similarities between patients with multiple sclerosis and a type of schizophrenia suggest the disorders are related, according to a review of a number of studies.

Dr. Boris M. Arneth wrote the article, “Multiple Sclerosis and Schizophrenia.” It was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

MS is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, while schizophrenia is primarily considered a psychiatric disease. Patients with MS are reported to be at an increased risk of developing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

There are similar abnormalities in the immune systems of those with MS and schizophrenia.

Experts suspect one of the causes of both illnesses is the immune system turning against the body and damaging healthy tissues and organs. Scientists have found brain tissue damage in people with MS and schizophrenia.

Autoantibodies, or antibodies that damage the body’s own cells, are present in MS and in a type of schizophrenia, although they have different targets in the brain.

Other similarities of MS and schizophrenia are that both typically develop during early adulthood, and both appear to be triggered by certain infections.

There are striking differences between MS and schizophrenia, too, however. For instance, MS affects women more than men, but schizophrenia affects the genders equally. Another difference is that MS affects whites more than blacks, while schizophrenia is more common in blacks than whites.

Experts estimate that 2.2 million Americans have schizophrenia and 400,000 MS.

Both diseases can occur in the same person, or in the same family. Arneth called for more studies on families. One reason is to see how often it happens. Another is to learn whether family members with either MS or schizophrenia share inherited traits.

“There may be hereditary elements that predispose patients to developing not only MS or SCZ [schizophrenia] separately but also both diseases simultaneously, as both diseases can occur in the same family,” Arneth wrote. “This would be an interesting point for future studies to investigate.”

The review turned up “similarities and differences in genetic, immunological, seasonal, geographical, and gender-related risk factors” for the two diseases, he said. “The findings suggest that subgroups of these two diseases may belong to the same class of disorders.”

Janet Stewart is a life sciences writer and editor, holds an MSc. in Virology and Immunology and has worked on research on multiple sclerosis during the course of her graduate studies.
Janet Stewart is a life sciences writer and editor, holds an MSc. in Virology and Immunology and has worked on research on multiple sclerosis during the course of her graduate studies.


  1. charles says:

    multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia are both in my family. from my perspective, it seems like there might be a common genetic component. granted that my family constitutes one data point, which does not form a line, let alone a pattern.

    • Vivian M Callender says:

      Indeed. I have MS and my birth son is bi-polar. Plus, I have a first cousin who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 17. I was diagnosed with MS at age 52 after a lifetime of symptoms. I also had Epstein Barr Virus AKA Mono at age 18. Hmmmmmm

  2. Carol says:

    Personally, I do not think there is any link between schizophrenia and MS.
    I worked in the mental health field as a social worker for 20 years. I now have developed MS and cannot see the link. I worked with many families and in my experience I never came across one case of both conditions being in the same family!

    • Lizz says:

      I tend to want to agree as i have never seen it but…my father’s side of the family is littered with schizophrenia, his older brother had scleroderma and i have ms. I dont have both but mood disorders and ms are certianly often comorbid so i dont see why they cant be related. That being said spurious relationships are always possible

  3. Stephanie says:

    So if MS is now being tied to gut bacteria then could there be a subset of schizophrenia patients who harbor the same significant imbalance of gut bacteria as seen in MS?

  4. Mychelle says:

    My father has schizophrenia and I have 2 sister’s with MS. I believe that they are related bc how does 2 sister get MS if there is no history of it in the family. But there is a history of schizophrenia.

  5. Andrej Anastasov says:

    I’ve got both and for an understanding social worker, first of all, your clinical deductions are very poor and your stigma towards schizophrenia is bizarre noting you are a ‘social worker’. Don’t worry, no ones going to throw eggs at you for the superman type of cape you are wearing. Just iterating that those who scream blue is evil are usually smurfs themselves. Schizophrenia is harder to endure than ms due to wonderful ‘social’ support readily encountered these days

    • Pete says:

      Well said!
      I too have both and I found her comments offensive and derogatory. Not to mention, saying that you have worked in the medical profession for 20 years as a social worker hardly entitles one to espouse medical advice.



    • Stephanie Goforth says:

      My nephew with MS has come to me this week reporting terrifying symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Where do I find him the help that he needs?

  6. Jeff says:

    As someone with both, and throw in Social Anxiety Disorder just for grins, I’ve ‘enjoyed’ the benefits of each of them.

    IMHO it still boils down to the changes in our diets and lifestyles since the early twentieth century, the shift from agrarian to urban living. Being the ‘first’ in my family to be diagnosed with anything it now seems to be coming out of the woodwork. Two more MS, more diabetes, more depression related conditions, more cancers, more dementia, and just about anything else.

    Modern medicine has blunted the brutality of Natural Selection and no longer weeds out the weak. We all live longer, eat ‘better’ (more really awful convenience food), get more illnesses, take more drugs (ie antibiotics, etc), ingest more chemicals and pesticides, eat more GMO food, eat foods out of season, and generally treat our bodies as if anything can be cured.

    Why do we think we’re bullet proof? Funny how all these ‘miracle’ diets somehow cure one person and have little or no affect on others. Is it all related?

    It took about a century but our immune systems have not been able to evolve fast enough to adapt to our current environment and lifestyles. The next century should be even more interesting.

    “The best way to predict the future is to study the past, or prognosticate.” Robert Kiyosaki

  7. Pablo says:

    It is not stating that both illnesses are related. Both seem to be autoinmune illnesses, problably related to their genetic load. Yet there is a chance that both illnesses could be present in one person. Read people!

  8. Brian Porter says:

    I tested my DNA and ran it through a health checker and at the top of the list of increased health risks is a 3.5 x higher risk of multiple sclerosis. I am 51 and don’t have MS. My mother and my son both have schizophrenia.

  9. Me says:

    My mom was diagnosed with ms but has symptoms that are more like schizophrenia so I do beleive this could be true… especially for her. But what one type of schizophrenia?

  10. I got schizophrenia but read 150 books in 2018. Have many of the same symptoms ms has, that my mom was diagnosis with yet struggle with the wonderful social cues community of mental health.
    It’s expected for me to say it’s a broken recovery system which only informs them more I have schizophrenia when now I feel I just shut them up or it’s my illness when I say there’s a person broken in the system.
    Which is a book about a therapist who gets a drinking problem only to go through the mental health system loose his license and becomes a psychiatric nurse.
    Lucky he survived prison, I could relate with that story except I still have ms symptoms that are said to be imaginary anyway and see the lack of sleep ms usually dies from with organ failure from it and the lack of sleep problems with schizophrenia. Neurology is seeing it, yet they say if you have paranoia to see a psychiatrist . If you say anything crazy you get locked up and medicated. Hard luck there. The uninformed mental illness community is not literate enough to brace it self for this news. That’s all I see.

  11. Julia says:

    This is very interesting. My boyfriend has Schizophrenia and I have MS. I have noticed many similarities, mainly in cognitive function.
    He suffers from avolition and I have impaired executive function. Although, his is more severe than mine, they are surprisingly alike.

  12. Jacob kohn says:

    Has any physician wrote a medical prescription or given medicine to someone with schizophrenia that treats ms?? (Steroids)

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