Schizoaffective Disorder Diagnosis and Treatment
Learn the difference between schizoaffective disorders and schizophrenia in the following article.
Table of Contents
Schizoaffective Disorder Definition
Schizoaffective disorder is a rare, chronic mental health condition that, according to the ICD-10, is “a mental disorder characterized by the presence of both affective disorder and schizophrenia-like symptoms.”1 People with schizoaffective disorder may experience delusions, mania, hallucinations, depression, and other mood changes, like feeling detached from reality.2
Some famous figures known to have this disorder include mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton, Beach Boys member Brian Wilson, and Fleetwood Mac member Peter Green.3
What Causes Schizoaffective Disorder?
The exact cause of Schizo-affective psychosis is unknown, and the disorder has been studied less than other mental health conditions. Research indicates several factors that may contribute to this disorder.
Genetics likely play a role, as the condition tends to run in families. However, even if someone in your family has the disorder, that does not mean you are certain to also have it. Genetic influences simply increase the odds of having the disorder.
Other aspects that may cause or trigger schizoaffective disorder include brain chemistry, stress levels, and drug use. Additionally, signs of the disorder tend to first appear around ages sixteen through thirty.
What Triggers Schizoaffective Disorder?
Although exact causes of the disorder are unknown, some common triggers can bring on Schizo-affective psychosis:
- Stress: Stressful events like the death of a loved one or job loss can trigger the disorder
- Drug use: The use of psychoactive drugs like LSD have also been identified as triggers for the condition
- Brain structure: Brain mapping chemistry and structure may influence the likelihood of someone developing the disorder, but scientists are still in the early stages of discovering the link between the brain and the condition
If you suspect yourself or someone you know to have mental disorder disorder, the first thing to do is make an appointment with your physician or psychiatrist to be evaluated and treated. If you or someone you know has already been diagnosed with the disorder, arming yourself with knowledge about the disorder can be extremely helpful. Be patient, encouraging, and available to talk whenever the affected individual needs it.4
Schizoaffective Disorder Types and Symptoms
There are two different types of Schizo-affective psychosis : bipolar type and depressive type. Bipolar type mental disorder includes episodes of mania and can also include episodes of major depression. Depressive types experience only depressive episodes.5
Schizo affective Disorder Symptoms
In both types, Schizo-affective psychosis symptoms include:
- Delusions, in which the person believes something to be true despite it being disproved
- Hallucinations, in which the person sees, hears, feels, smells, or tastes things that aren’t there
- Impaired or incoherent speech
- Disorganized thinking, in which the person switches from topic to topic or says things completely unrelated to the relevant conversation
- Strange behavior that is out of character for the affected individual
- Depression or feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and sadness
- Periods of mania, in which the affected individual has a significant increase in energy and a decrease in the need for sleep for several days, as well as mood changes and strange behavior
- Impaired functioning at school or work
- Problems with hygiene and maintaining physical appearance
Schizoaffective Disorder Diagnosis
Schizo-affective psychosis can be difficult to diagnose because the condition has symptoms of schizophrenia, and bipolar mental disorder may have symptoms resembling bipolar disorder or depression. There are no lab tests that can indicate the presence of the disorder, so doctors must get a comprehensive understanding of a patient’s mental and medical history as well as their symptoms.
Doctors may utilize blood tests and MRIs to rule out other conditions that could be causing the patient’s symptoms.6
Schizoaffective Disorder Misdiagnosis
Because schizoaffective disorder can easily be mistaken for other disorders, the risk for misdiagnosis can be high. mental disorder disorder features characteristics of schizophrenia, but the two are not interchangeable.
Schizoaffective Disorder vs. Schizophrenia
While Schizo-affective psychosis features delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and mood disorder symptoms like depression and mania, schizophrenia does not typically have symptoms of a mood disorder. Schizophrenia symptoms include hallucinations, hearing voices, paranoia, frenzied speaking, impaired motor coordination, agitation, and other cognitive and behavioral symptoms.
The Dangers of Misdiagnosis
Because schizophrenia and mental disorder have overlapping symptoms, they are easy to misdiagnose. However, misdiagnosis can seriously harm a patient’s treatment process.
For example, if someone with mental disorder disorder is being treated for schizophrenia, they will most likely only be prescribed antipsychotics, which are used to treat schizophrenia. However, people with mental disorder disorder often require antidepressant treatment in addition to antipsychotics, meaning incorrect treatment can lead to worsening symptoms and distress for the affected individual.
Living With Schizoaffective Disorder
Although the condition is relatively rare, with only three in every one hundred people having the disorder, it can affect anyone. Moreover, though the condition can be difficult to manage, treatment can be immensely helpful for those with the disorder.
Additionally, people with this disorder report symptoms lessening as they get older, and many people see a significant reduction of symptoms by middle age. Though the condition is chronic and there is no cure, it is important to remember that a Schizo-affective psychosis diagnosis does not mean someone can’t have a good life.
Schizoaffective Disorder Medications and Treatment
There are several types of schizoaffective disorder treatments. Schizo-affective psychosis bipolar type is often treated with antipsychotic medications such as:
- Invega (paliperidone), which is FDA-approved specifically for the treatment of mental disorder disorder
- Seroquel (quetiapine)
- Abilify (aripiprazole)
- Lamictal (lamotrigine), an anticonvulsant
Schizoaffective affective personality disorder is also treated with psychotherapy, and a combination of therapy and medication is often the best treatment for this disorder. J. Flowers Health Institute offers a comprehensive concierge approach for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder which combines medication and therapy. JFHI focuses on the patient’s needs by first affirming a diagnosis, then developing holistic treatment plans created by their team of specialists.
Even the most complex mental conditions can be treated by JCFI, and personalized one-on-one care encourages patients towards regaining independence and live fulfilling lives.