February 18

A Brief Overview of Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is having both schizophrenia as well as a mood disorder such as bi-polar. This condition affects your thoughts, mood and behavior. Having schizoaffective disorder can cause episodes of mania as well as depression.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder consists of different types. Before specifying which type has what symptoms, here is a general list what symptoms are associated with schizoaffective disorder:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Inability to differentiate between real and unreal imagery
  • Disorganized speech
  • Unclear thinking
  • Odd behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of emotion in facial expression and speech
  • Lack of motivation
  • Slow movements

Looks pretty similar to schizophrenia, however schizoaffective, as mentioned above, is schizophrenia with a mood disorder. This creates the different types which are: bipolar and depressive schizoaffective types.

Bipolar Schizoaffective

This is where it gets interesting. With bipolar type, it’s important to note that there is schizoaffective bipolar type and bipolar with psychotic features– which lies in the periphery of schizoaffective but stays in the bipolar category. They are quite similar however, the main difference is that episodes of psychosis happen separately from mania or depression. Whereas bipolar with psychotic features will have episodes of psychosis will occur along with episodes of mania or depression.

 Ultimately, with schizoaffective bipolar type you can experience extreme highs (mania) or experience those highs with depressing lows. The following is a list of symptoms associated with mania:

  • Agitation
  • Distractibility
  • Increased work, social and sexual activity
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Not sleeping much
  • Racing thoughts
  • Rapid talking
  • Self-destructive behavior

Depressive Schizoaffective

The depressive type is a bit more straightforward. Having this type of schizoaffective includes having symptoms of depression with schizophrenia. The following list are symptoms associated with depression:

  • Low mood
  • Feelings of low self-worth
  • Guilt
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Poor appetite
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Weight loss or gain

What is the Diagnosis for Schizoaffective Disorder?

First, if you are experiencing symptoms and see a health care provider, they will check you medical history and conduct a physical exam. If the physical exam shows no signs that caused the symptoms, they will refer you to a mental health professional for a diagnosis.

The psychiatrist or psychologist will interview you using an assessment designed to identify if a condition is present. During the interview, they will listen to you (or a loved one) to learn more about your behaviors and if the symptoms you mention match with that of the condition.

According to nami.org, the condition is pretty rare affecting .3% of men and women who experience it at the same rate. However, onset of schizoaffective is typically earlier for men than it is for women.

What is the Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder?

Treatment for Schizoaffective disorder involves medication, psychotherapy and skills training. This treatment cocktail works together to help stabilize your mood while providing you with coping skills to have fulfilling relationships and live a happy life while having more control of the symptoms associated with this condition.

Medication

The medication your provider will prescribe is dependent on your mood disorder type. For the most part, antipsychotics and antidepressants are commonly used for medication treatment. Antipsychotics help with the symptoms associated with schizophrenia while the antidepressants treat mood related symptoms.

Therapy

Talk therapy is notorious for its effectiveness. This therapy is conducted in a private safe space for you to discuss your distress to a professional to explore your feelings and emotions. 

Some talk therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Both work in identifying and creating different thought patterns that are more positive and have several studies showing its effectiveness with schizophrenia, bipolar and depression.

Life Skills Training

Skills training is used to teach you social skills and building healthy relationships at home, work and everywhere else. Learning social and vocational skills can prevent isolation while improving your quality of life. 

Taking life skills training can help you with a plethora of different things. It can help with money management, grooming and social skills, work and hygiene.

Two friends walking talk about schizoaffective

Photo Credit: Joseph Pearson | Unsplash

Summary

Ultimately, schizoaffective is a fairly rare condition that affects .3% of people. The condition inhibits symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder that is linked to either bipolar or depression. While schizoaffective can hinder your daily life, treatment is available for it, which involves a combination of medication, talk therapy and life skills training. 

If you think you or a loved one is showing symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, please schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to get a proper diagnosis.

Written by: Dave Bugg

Tags

adhd, anxiety, bipolar, cbt, depression, healing journey, healthy habits, Mental health, psychology, schizoaffective, schizophrenia, talk therapy, therapist, therapy


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