What Is Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition that involves symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. In fact, many people with schizophrenia are incorrectly diagnosed at first with depression or bipolar disorder.
Scientists donât know for sure if schizoaffective disorder is related mainly to schizophrenia or a mood disorder. But itâs usually viewed and treated as a combination of both conditions.
Only a tiny number of people get schizoaffective disorder — .03% of the population. Itâs equally likely to affect men and women, but men usually get it at a younger age. Doctors can help manage it, but most people diagnosed with it have relapses. People who have it often have problems with substance use as well.
What You Can Do
People can often manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia with medication and therapy. Having a support system in place will increase your chances of successfully managing your symptoms. A support system may include family, friends, and the people in your workplace.
If you have either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, you have an increased risk of suicide. See your doctor if you have thoughts of suicide. They can provide treatment. Support groups can help to reduce the risk of suicide. You should also avoid alcohol and drugs to further reduce your risk.
If you have bipolar disorder, you should do the following:
- Follow a relatively stable lifestyle.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep.
- Maintain a healthy diet.
Can You Self Diagnose Bipolar
Take our online bipolar testits free, quick, confidential, and scientifically validated. Mental health screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Please note: Online screening tools are not diagnostic instruments.
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Can A Person Be Both Bipolar And Schizophrenia
Because of some overlap in symptoms, getting the right diagnosis can be challenging. Also, a person can have both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which can complicate diagnosis. Some people have schizoaffective disorder, which involves a combination of schizophrenia symptoms and those of a mood disorder.
Community Mental Health Team
If a diagnosis of schizophrenia is suspected, the GP should refer you to your local community mental health team .
CMHTs are made up of different mental health professionals who support people with complex mental health conditions.
A member of the CMHT team, usually a psychiatrist or a specialist nurse, will carry out a more detailed assessment of your symptoms. They’ll also want to know your personal history and current circumstances.
To make a diagnosis, most mental healthcare professionals use a diagnostic checklist.
Schizophrenia can usually be diagnosed if:
- you’ve experienced 1 or more of the following symptoms most of the time for a month: delusions, hallucinations, hearing voices, incoherent speech, or negative symptoms, such as a flattening of emotions
- your symptoms have had a significant impact on your ability to work, study or perform daily tasks
- all other possible causes, such as recreational drug use or bipolar disorder, have been ruled out
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Is It Schizophrenia Or Bipolar Disorder
Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder are two very serious mental illnesses that plague many people every day. These two disorders are very similar in nature, but they are also quite different.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, these two illnesses are defined as the following:
- Schizophrenia is defined as a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem as though they have lost touch with reality, which can be distressing for them and for their family and friends.
- Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
There are three types:
- Bipolar I Disorder defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features are also possible.
- Bipolar II Disorder defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes that are typical of Bipolar I Disorder.
- Cyclothymic Disorder defined by periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years . However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.
Living With Bipolar Disorder
Teens normally face ups and downs with school, family, work, and friends. Dealing with bipolar disorder at the same time is a very difficult challenge. One 16-year-old reader who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 14 wrote to us about the experience:
“I had mood swings that were the worst anyone could have ever seen. My poor parents thought I hated them, but really I was sick and didn’t even realize it. But now I am on medications for my disorder and I live a pretty normal life. My family and friends support me, and they, along with my therapist, have helped me get to the point where I am today. I just want other teens to know that even though it is hard at times to be bipolar, things will get better.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, taking your medications as prescribed, reporting any changes in how you feel or function, and participating in therapy will be key to living a successful life. In addition to treatment, making a few lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, eating well, and getting enough sleep and exercise can help someone who is living with the condition. And many teens find it helps to join a support network such as a local support group for people with bipolar disorder.
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Disqualifying Mental Health Conditions
According to the Department of Defense, you’re disqualified from serving in the U.S. military if you have a current diagnosis or a history of most mental disorders. The presence of any disorder with psychotic features, such as schizophrenia or a delusional disorder, does not allow one to serve.
You’re also disqualified if you have bipolar disorder or affective psychoses. For depressive disorders , disqualification from the service occurs if a person had outpatient care that lasted for more than 12 months or any inpatient care. A person with a depressive disorder must be stable, without treatment or symptoms for a continuous 36 months, to be eligible to enlist.
For anxiety disorders , a person cannot enter the armed services if they needed any inpatient care, or outpatient care for more than 12 months cumulatively. They must not have needed any treatment for their anxiety disorder in the past 36 months. Other disqualifying mental health conditions include:
Disturbances of conduct, impulse control disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or other personality or behavior disorders characterized by frequent encounters with law enforcement agencies, and antisocial attitudes or behavior also warrant disqualification from service. Likewise, a person may be disqualified from enlisting if their personality, conduct, or behavior disorder is believed to be a serious interference in adjusting to the military.
A Revealing Genetic Comparison Of Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorder
Banks Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry
Professor of Human Genetics
Scientific Council Member
2010, 2000 Distinguished Investigator Grant
1995 Lieber Prizewinner for Outstanding Achievement in Schizophrenia Research
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are distinct diagnoses yet they have symptoms that overlap. They also share some of their underlying genetics, and now a study in which over 100,000 genomes were analyzed has enabled scientists to show 114 locations in the genome implicating pathways shared between the two illnesses, and four genome regions that contribute to differences in their biology. The research highlights the potential for genetics to improve diagnoses and personalize treatments.
Study comparing genetics and symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar could provide paths to personalizing treatments. Tweet This
Researchers have taken an important step toward understanding the relationship between two of the most serious psychiatric disorders, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. For years, they have known that the two share certain symptoms, and presumably, underlying genetic disturbances. Studies of families have shown that someone with an immediate family member with schizophrenia not only has about 10 times the normal risk of schizophrenia, but also an increased risk of bipolar disorder.
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What Is Bipolar Disorder And Its Symptoms
First, it is essential to know there are different types of bipolar disorders. These may include symptoms like mania, hypomania, and depression. The symptoms can produce unpredictable changes in mood and behavior, which results in extreme distress and difficulty in life. Below are the different bipolar types and some of their symptoms.
Bipolar I disorder: The individual may have had at least one manic episode that might have preceded or was followed by a major depressive episode or being hypomanic. There may have been a break in reality.
Bipolar II disorder: The individual had at least one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode but has never had a manic episode. The difference between these two is that hypomania is a milder form of mania where the energy level is higher than normal but not as extreme as in mania.
Cyclothymic disorder: The individual has had at least two years, one year as a child and one as a teenager, of having hypomania symptoms and depressive symptoms, though the depressive symptoms are less severe than major depression.
What Happens If Bpd Is Left Untreated
If left untreated, the effects of borderline personality can be devastating, not only for the individual who is diagnosed with the disorder, but their friends and family as well. Some of the most common effects of untreated BPD can include the following: Dysfunctional social relationships. Repeated job losses.
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Mental Illness And Divergent Thinking
In 2017, associate professor of psychiatry Gail Saltz stated that the increased production of divergent thoughts in people with mild-to-moderate mental illnesses leads to greater creative capacities. Saltz argued that the âwavering attention and day-dreamy stateâ of ADHD, for example, âis also a source of highly original thinking. CEOs of companies such as Ikea and Jetblue have ADHD. Their creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, high energy levels, and disinhibited manner could all be a positive result of their negative affliction.â Mania has also been credited with aiding in creativity because âwhen speed of thinking increases, word associations form more freely, as do flight of ideas, because the manic mind is less inclined to filtering details that, in a normal state, would be dismissed as irrelevant.â
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Can Psychotic Depression Lead To More Complications Such As Schizophrenia
As weve explored already, depression is a disorder of a different kind and category than schizophrenia. This means that depression does not ultimately evolve into schizophrenia. But there are overlaps in symptoms and side effects with the two disorders, and it is possible for someone to have both disorders at once. When someone has co-occurring depression and schizophrenia, it has a unique diagnosis: schizoaffective disorder. This dual diagnosis is important because it informs the level of integrated treatment someone needs.
Even without the occurrence of a psychotic disorder, when depression is particularly severe, it is possible for a person to experience distortions in their reality, including psychotic symptoms. An important difference is that someone with schizophrenia who experiences a psychotic episode inherently believes that their delusions or hallucinations are part of reality someone who experiences a psychotic episode in connection with severe depression often has a better grip on their actual reality and can clue into the discrepancies there.
This understanding of the disconnect between what they are perceiving and the reality they know does not necessarily diminish their distress and confusion. On the contrary, this awareness can bring its own overwhelming complications. It can add to a persons anxiety and their feelings of shame, unworthiness, hopelessness, and lack of confidence.
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Diagnosis Of Schizoaffective Disorder
There are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose schizoaffective disorder. So doctors rely on your medical history and your answers to certain questions. They also use various tests such as brain imaging and blood tests to make sure that another type of illness isnât causing your symptoms.
If the doctor finds no physical cause, they may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals are trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. They use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a psychotic disorder.
In order to get diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, you must have:
- Periods of uninterrupted illness
- An episode of mania, major depression, or a mix of both
- Symptoms of schizophrenia
- At least two periods of psychotic symptoms, each lasting 2 weeks. One of the episodes must happen without depressive or manic symptoms.
A Difference In Treatment Styles
Why is it so important to know the differences between schizoaffective disorder vs schizophrenia? One reason is that both disorders require different approaches to treatment. Treating people for one condition when they suffer from the other does little to help.
For schizophrenia, most treatment revolves around antipsychotic medications, such as chlorpromazine and haloperidol. Schizoaffective disorder treatment also relies on antipsychotics, but the most common one that doctors prescribe is Paliperidone. In fact, its the only FDA-approved drug for this disorder.
With that said, there are some similarities in treatment as well. For example, attending therapy while taking appropriate medication is essential. Therapy can help people work through other issues that accompany these disorders. However, it isnt enough on its own, so they still have to take medication.
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How Is Schizoaffective Disorder Diagnosed
A psychiatrist will diagnose schizoaffective disorder after a mental health assessment. It might take more than one assessment for the psychiatrist to reach a diagnosis. You may get a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder if you have depressive or manic symptoms with symptoms of schizophrenia.
Psychiatrists will use the following manuals to help to diagnose you:
- International Classification of Diseases produced by the World Health Organisation
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual produced by the American Psychiatric Association.
The manuals are guides which explain different mental health conditions and their symptoms. They also explain how long certain symptoms should last for before a diagnosis should be made.
To get a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder you should have had a combination of symptoms of both psychosis and bi-polar disorder. Your symptoms should be clearly there for at least 2 weeks.
Schizophrenia Vs Bipolar: What Are The Differences In Symptoms
Schizophrenia and bipolar share a few symptoms but are different mental health disorders with different symptoms. Schizophrenia, as explained by the National Institute of Mental Health , is a serious mental health illness affecting how an individual thinks, feels, and behaves. Individuals with schizophrenia might see like they lost touch with reality, which can cause significant distress for them and those that love them.
It is usually diagnosed in the late teens to early thirties in males and late adolescence to early twenties for females. Diagnosis is made after the first psychotic episode. Some of its symptoms include hallucinations and delusions.
Bipolar disorder causes unnatural shifts in energy, mood, concentration, activity levels, and the ability to conduct everyday tasks. There are three types of it, all of which involve noticeable changes in energy, mood, and activity levels. Some moods may range from extremely up and elated to very down, sad or indifferent moods. These moods can switch from one to another very quickly and dramatically affect the diagnosed individual. Hallucinations and delusions are two symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Those are the main symptoms that both schizophrenia and bipolar share. However, there are other symptoms that are different for each disorder.
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Types Of Schizoaffective Disorder
Both psychotic and mood disorder symptoms are present in schizoaffective disorder and, just as there is more than one type of mood disorder, there is more than one type of schizoaffective disorder:
- Manic type: In this type you have both psychotic and manic symptoms occurring within one episode.
- Depressive type: In this type you have both psychotic and depressive symptoms occurring at the same time during an episode.
- Mixed type: In this type you have psychotic symptoms with both manic and depressive symptoms. However, the psychotic symptoms are independent and not necessarily related to the bipolar disorder symptoms.
Symptoms Of Schizoaffective Disorder
The symptoms may vary greatly from one person to the next and may be mild or severe. They may include:
- Depression symptoms
- Lack of personal care
- Mania or sudden, out-of-character jumps in energy levels or happiness, racing thoughts, or risky behavior
- Problems with speech and communication, only giving partial answers to questions or giving answers that are unrelated
- Problems with speech and communication, only giving partial answers to questions, or giving answers that are unrelated.
- Trouble at work, school, or in social settings
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Does Someone With Schizoaffective Disorder Need To Be Hospitalized
Most people with this disorder can get outpatient treatment. They go to a clinic or hospital for treatment during the day and then return home. Sometimes, people have severe symptoms, though, or theyre in danger of harming themselves or others. They may need to be hospitalized to stabilize their condition.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms
A person with bipolar disorder will go through episodes of mania and at other times experience episodes of depression . These aren’t the normal periods of happiness and sadness that everyone experiences from time to time. Instead, the episodes are intense or severe mood swings, like a pendulum that keeps arcing higher and higher.
Symptoms of mania include:
- anger, worry, and anxiety
- thoughts of death or suicide
In adults, episodes of mania or depression usually last for weeks or months, although they can be shorter in length. In children and adolescents, though, these episodes can be much shorter, and a kid or teen can even go back and forth between mania and depression throughout the day.
Episodes of mania or depression may happen irregularly and follow an unpredictable pattern or they may be linked, with a manic episode always following a period of depression, or vice versa. Sometimes episodes have a seasonal pattern. Mania in the spring, for example, may be followed by depression in the winter.
Between episodes, someone with bipolar disorder usually returns to normal functioning. For some people, though, there is little or no “break period” between their cycles. These mood swing cycles can change slowly or rapidly, with rapid cycling between mania and depression being much more common in women, children, and adolescents.
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