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How Is Schizoaffective Disorder Different From Schizophrenia

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Q: What Is The Difference Between Schizoaffective Disorder And Schizophrenia

What is Schizoaffective Disorder & How is it different from Schizophrenia? | Apollo Hospitals

A: Schizoaffective disorder is actually one of the four main types of schizophrenia. It is a mood disorder as well as a thought disorder. However, the mood issues are the overriding problem.

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If you have schizoaffective disorder, you have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Depression: Sadness and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and/or worthlessness.
  • Mania: Racing thoughts, grandiose beliefs, sleeplessness and/or risky behaviors.
  • Hypomania: The symptoms are similar to mania but less intense.

Along with these symptoms, you also have symptoms of schizophrenia: a loss of touch with reality, abnormal thinking, hallucinations, delusions and/or extreme paranoia.

It may take a while for psychiatrists to make the diagnosis. Some people with schizoaffective disorder have both depression and mania, but seek help only when theyre depressed and never mention the mania.

To complicate matters, another illness bipolar disorder also produces highs and lows in mood, and racing thoughts. However, people with schizoaffective disorder have moments where they are quite paranoid and out of touch with reality.

Like other forms of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder can be caused by genetics, abnormal brain chemistry, childhood abuse and deprivation, and/or substance abuse.

Understanding The Subtle Differences

The difference between schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia is often hard to spot. The reason is that a lot of the symptoms overlap. For example, doctors typically characterize schizoaffective disorder by the mood disorders that accompany it. However, its not uncommon for people with schizophrenia to experience manic or depressive moods as well.

If both experience mood disorders, how can specialists tell the difference? The key difference between schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia is the prominence of the mood disorder. With schizoaffective disorder, the mood disorder is front and center. With schizophrenia, its not a dominant part of the disorder.

Another difference is the psychotic symptoms that people experience. With schizophrenia, the psychotic symptoms are dominant. With schizoaffective disorder, episodes of psychosis may occur.

However, it takes trained professionals to spot the differences between the two. After all, the symptoms typically start when people reach their 20s. Also, they can cause hallucinations and delusions.

What The Doctor Will Want To Know

If you or a loved one are being evaluated for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, a doctor may ask questions which include the following:

  • Personal hygiene. Good or poor?
  • Is the person generally cooperative or easily agitated?
  • Do the facial expressions match the mood?
  • Does the patient make eye contact?
  • Are the movements slow, as if the person is moving through water?
  • Do words and sentences follow a normal thought process?
  • Does the person appear depressed or manic?
  • Does he or she have a grandiose sense of self?
  • Does the patient know his name? Can he tell you the day of the week?
  • Does the patient respond to stimuli that are imaginary?
  • Does the patient have paranoid thoughts?
  • Are they experiencing suicidal thoughts?
  • Has the patient recently used drugs and alcohol?5

The symptoms of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder can be managed through treatment, so its important to find the right care. People with either diagnosis can live healthy and full lives.

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Diagnosis Of Schizoaffective Disorder Is Difficult

Diagnosis is difficult because the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are similar to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. For example, people who are severely depressed can sometimes suffer from hallucinations, while people coming out of acute schizophrenic episodes are prone to depression . A long-term history of the person is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

The symptoms of mania can easily be confused with the emotions, thoughts and behaviours commonly experienced during a schizophrenic psychotic episode.

Diagnosis may take some time because it is so difficult to tell the difference between schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia and mood disorders. Usually, a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is made when the symptoms of schizophrenia and the symptoms of a mood disorder are present at the same time for at least two weeks.

How Should I Take Care Of Myself When It Comes To Schizoaffective Disorder


Perhaps youve noticed signs of schizoaffective disorder in yourself or a loved one. Those symptoms may include prolonged hallucinations, delusions, depression or manic episodes. The first step is to talk to a healthcare provider. Getting diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible helps improve symptoms and promote a good quality of life. Be sure to follow your providers treatment instructions:

  • Attend therapy sessions, including individual and family therapy.
  • Stay in contact with your provider, who can help manage and adjust your treatments as necessary.
  • Take medications as directed. Talk to your provider to help manage side effects from the medications.
  • Treat substance use disorders, if necessary.

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Who Will Manage My Treatment

There are different NHS mental health teams that can support and treat you. Health professionals from different backgrounds work in the teams shown below. They work together to help you get better.

What is an NHS Early intervention in psychosis team ?

An NHS Early intervention in psychosis team can support you if you experience psychosis for the first time.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that early intervention services should be open to people of all ages.

You should be referred to the EIT without delay. Your local EIT will aim to first see you within 14 days.

You can sometimes self-refer to your local EIT. This means that you can contact them and ask for help, without first seeing your GP or another medical professional. Sometimes your family or friends can refer you too.

You should be able to find your local EIT on the internet. You can use a use a search term like NHS early intervention psychosis team Leicestershire. Or you can call NHS 111 and ask for contact details for your local team,or ask your GP to refer you.

What is an NHS community mental health team ?

A community mental health team can support you to recover from mental health issues. They can give you short or long-term care and treatment in the community. You might move from an Early intervention in psychosis team to a CMHT if you need longer term care.

You usually need to be referred to CMHT by your GP or another medical or social care professional.

Are Schizophrenia And Schizoaffective The Same

No, as mentioned above, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are two different psychotic disorders as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition that affects less than 1% of people in the United States. It is characterized by a range of psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. While there is no cure for schizophrenia, most symptoms can be significantly improved with treatment.

Schizoaffective disorder is also a chronic mental health condition with a prevalence rate of around 0.3%. In this disorder, there are schizophrenia symptoms and also mood symptoms. Indeed, many people with schizoaffective disorder are initially incorrectly diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder can be effectively managed with proper treatment including therapy and medications.

Both conditions occur due to chemical imbalances in the brain. The symptoms typically start when a person is in their early 20s. Men and women are equally affected but the symptoms tend to start earlier in men. There is often a family history of mental health conditions in affected individuals.

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Schizoaffective Disorder Vs Schizophrenia

Comparing schizoaffective disorder vs schizophrenia is important. Far too often, people lump these mental disorders together. In reality, theyre completely different disorders that cause different symptoms.

For example, people who have schizophrenia have a hard time telling the difference between reality and fiction. They might see or hear voices that arent really there. To them, the voices and imagery are as real as it comes. However, others cant see nor hear these nonexistent things.

With schizoaffective disorder, people feel detached from reality. While it makes them see or hear things that arent there, it also affects their mood a great deal. In fact, two common types of schizoaffective disorder are bipolar and depressive disorders.

With that said, its important to note that these disorders share some other symptoms. However, theyre still completely different and often require different treatments.

What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

What is the Difference Between Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia?

If you or a loved one has schizoaffective disorder, ask your provider:

  • What medication will help?
  • What other therapy can help?
  • Will this disorder ever go away?
  • How long will treatment continue?
  • Is there a higher risk for other conditions or disorders?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental health condition. It has features of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder. Schizoaffective symptoms may include symptoms of mania, depression and psychosis. Its important to get treatment as soon as possible. If you notice symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, talk to a healthcare provider. Treatment for schizoaffective disorder includes medication and therapy. While theres no cure for this disorder, treatment helps improve peoples symptoms and quality of life.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/24/2021.


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Diagnosing Schizoaffective Disorder: Dsm

Schizoaffective disorder is, like schizophrenia, a psychotic disorder. In addition to psychotic features, schizoaffective disorder has significant mood symptoms. This rare mental illness is related to both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder and affects approximately one-third fewer people than schizophrenia.

To receive a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis, someone must meet all the primary criteria for schizophrenia and have prominent mood disorder symptoms as well. This basic description of this disorder is accurate, but it falls a bit short. Lets take a deeper look to answer the question: What is schizoaffective disorder?

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.

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Schizophrenia Vs Schizoaffective Disorder: Overview

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are related conditions, and because the names are so similar many believe the latter is a subtype of the former. Schizoaffective disorder sufferers often receive a schizophrenia diagnosis when the condition is in its early stages, which helps reinforce this conception.

But the relationship between the two disorders is not so simple. There are similarities between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, but there are also significant differences that make it impossible to categorize one by referring to the other. In fact, despite schizophrenias notoriety, schizoaffective disorder is the more complicated condition to diagnose and treat.

Schizoaffective Disorder: A Hybrid Condition

Pin on Schizoaffective disorder vs Schizophrenia

The schizoaffective disorder vs. schizophrenia comparison reveals pronounced overlap but clear differences. In fact, schizoaffective disorder is a hybrid condition that combines the characteristics of schizophrenia with those of mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. It is this blending of different mental health conditions that sets schizoaffective disorder apart from its more well-known cousin, since the standard schizophrenia definition classifies it as a disorder that affects thought, feelings, and behavior but not mood, at least not directly.

Some mental health experts prefer a spectrum model to explain the two conditions, with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder occupying the two extreme ends and schizoaffective disorder found somewhere in the middle. This idea makes some sense, since people with schizoaffective disorder do generally exhibit the same mood swings that are experienced by individuals with bipolar disorder, either the lows of depression or the highs of mania.

However, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type is only one variety of the condition. Schizoaffective disorder, depressive type includes the symptoms of major depression without the mania, and is just as likely to be diagnosed as bipolar schizoaffective disorder.

Schizoaffective disorder ICD 10 classifications are recognized as authoritative everywhere, including in the United States, even though the American Psychiatric Associations DSM-5 classification system is more well-known.

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How Does A Psychiatrist Or Psychologist Diagnose Schizoaffective Disorder

Mental health professionals use specially designed interview and assessment tools to diagnose psychotic disorders. They listen to the person describe the symptoms. They also watch the persons speech, movement and behavior.

Providers figure out if these symptoms and behaviors match a specific disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition . The American Psychiatric Association publishes the DSM-5. Its considered the reference book for mental health conditions.

According to the DSM-5, a person has schizoaffective disorder if they have:

  • Periods of uninterrupted mental illness, such as having symptoms of depression or another mood disorder for a long time.
  • Episode of mania, major depression or both while also having symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • At least two weeks of psychotic symptoms without mood symptoms.
  • No evidence of a substance use disorder or medications that may be causing the symptoms.

When Should I Go To The Emergency Room

If you or a loved one seems in danger of harming themselves or others, get help right away. Go to an emergency room, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides free, confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Its available 24/7.

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Understanding The Differences Between Schizoaffective Disorder And Schizophrenia

If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out and get help today. Call

Have you ever heard of schizophrenia? Most likely, you have, but there is a good chance you have not heard of schizoaffective disorder. Many individuals often confuse these two mental disorders as being the same due to stigmas and lack of mental health education in schools. While they may sound similar, these disorders have distinguishing features. By understanding them, more people can get the help they need, and we can erase stigmas.

What Is The Difference Between Schizoaffective Disorder And Schizophrenia

SCHIZOPHRENIA & Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder have a significant overlap in symptoms. But schizoaffective disorder also involves symptoms of mood disorders like major depression or bipolar disorder, which makes it a more complicated condition to diagnose and treat. Both conditions are manageable, and no one who is diagnosed with either should be prevented from living a normal life over the long-term.

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Are There Different Types Of Schizoaffective Disorder

There are 3 main types of schizoaffective disorder:

What is manic type?

This means you have symptoms of schizophrenia and mania at the same time through a period of illness.

What is depressive type?

This means you have symptoms of schizophrenia and depression at the same time through a period of illness.

What is mixed type?

This means you have symptoms of schizophrenia, depression and mania through a period of illness.

Cognition And Social Cognition

Assumptions of MANOVA were examined and upheld. The findings with respect to 11 cognitive/social cognitive performance indicators are presented in Table 2. The omnibus MANOVA showed a significant main effect of group =3.77, P< .001). Follow-up ANOVA indicated that the groups differed significantly on 9 measures including the MCCB composite, Processing Speed, Attention/Vigilance, Verbal Learning, Visual Learning and Reasoning/Problem Solving domains. In addition, main effects of group were found for the MSCEIT , Reading the Mind in the Eyes test and the WRAT-4 reading task, but not for WASI IQ.

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Finding Mental Health Treatment

While theres clearly a difference between schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia, both conditions can be properly managed with professional treatment. At our inpatient mental health rehab, we offer various forms of mental health care for individuals diagnosed with mood or psychotic disorders.

Included in our Boca behavioral health services is therapy of all kinds, including top-rated programs like dialectical and cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients receiving treatment at our mental therapy center will have the opportunity to work with our trained and highly-skilled team of professionals to understand their conditions, learn how to manage their symptoms, and develop the skills they require to live happy and fulfilling lives.

Our mental treatment center is here to help. Call Banyan Mental Health today at to learn how you or a loved one can get started today.

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Schizoaffective Disorder Signs And Symptoms

The 25+ best Schizoaffective disorder ideas on Pinterest ...

Living with schizoaffective disorder is difficult in any circumstance, but the trials and tribulations are sometimes made worse by a false schizophrenia diagnosis. In other instances, the disorder is incorrectly classified as major depression or bipolar disorder, which can lead to treatment choices that dont address all of the disruptive and debilitating symptoms of this complicated medical condition.

In its schizophrenic aspects, schizoaffective disorder often mimics either paranoid schizophrenia or disorganized schizophrenia. Schizoaffective disorder vs. schizophrenia comparisons reveal that each demonstrates the so-called positive symptoms of conventional schizophrenia, which are common to the paranoid and disorganized varieties of the disorder schizophrenia. Those positive symptoms tend to involve psychotic breaks with reality that can make normal functioning difficult, if not impossible.

  • Disorganized behavior
  • Catatonia
  • Negative symptoms of schizophrenia

One symptom may be enough to make a diagnosis, if it is: a). delusions that are especially bizarre or out of touch with reality, or b). auditory hallucinations that are continuous and/or involve multiple voices having conversations or issuing instructions.

Generally, the schizophrenia symptoms and the mood disorder will not be present simultaneously, at least not at equal strength, and that is another reason why a schizoaffective disorder diagnosis cannot be given when the disorder is in the initial stage.

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