Diagnosing Schizophrenia And Bipolar Disorder
There is no standard blood test for either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder however, a physician could conduct a psychological and physical exam. They may want to run a full blood test, and they may want to send you in for a CT scan or MRI to be sure no other conditions are in play. You will likely be asked about any family history of mental disorders and about any symptoms you are experiencing.
It is crucial to be completely honest with your doctor about any symptoms, even if you think they are not worth mentioning or are nervous to mention them. It is also vital to be truthful about any substance use you may be engaging in, as any medication the physician may prescribe could not mix well with other drugs and alcohol. Your doctor may request you undergo a substance use screening to be sure.
You might have to return a few times to your doctor before a diagnosis is made, and you might even be referred to a doctor that specializes in mental health conditions, as most HMOs require referrals to specialists. A doctor may ask you to maintain a journal of your moods, sleep patterns, and record any symptoms you are experiencing. This will help the doctor determine any patterns that can help them make the correct diagnosis.
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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What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
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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Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep is one of the most important factors in coping with bipolar disorder. This means going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time, even on the weekends.
It is a good idea to avoid caffeine in the afternoon and stay away from screens before bed. That way, people can fall asleep more easily.
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest triggers of manic and depressive episodes. If people with bipolar disorder are able to avoid sleep deprivation, they may be able to reduce the frequency of their episodes.
Its Similar To Other Mental Health Conditions
People with bipolar disorder usually get diagnosed with something else firstdepression and ADHD are some of the most common. Depression is a part of bipolar disorder, and most people are more familiar with what depression looks like than mania. ADHD can also look very similar to bipolar disorder, especially in children.
Once a person discovers they have bipolar disorder, that might replace any previous diagnosisor they might have multiple mental health conditions at once. If you know someone who is being treated for a mental illness, but they still struggle with symptoms of bipolar disorder, its worth considering that there may be more going on.
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Bipolar Disorder Or Depression
Doctors sometimes find it hard to distinguish between bipolar disorder and depression, and this can lead to misdiagnosis. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help during a low mood because depression is more likely to have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. During a high mood, they may feel exceptionally well.
Factors that increase the chance of this happening include the following:
- Depression is the dominant mood.
- Depression is the first episode you have.
- You have experienced mania or hypomania but not realized it could be significant.
Its essential to get an accurate diagnosis in order to work out a treatment plan. Antidepressants may not be effective in treating bipolar disorder.
In addition, some antidepressant medications can trigger a first manic or hypomanic episode if youre susceptible to them, and this could complicate both treatment and the outcome.
If you go to see your doctor with depression, be sure to tell them about any of the following, as these can help get an accurate diagnosis:
- a family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions
- any other conditions that affect your mental or physical wellbeing
- any medications, drugs, or other substances youre taking or have used in the past
- if youve already tried antidepressants and they did not help
How Common Is Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is rare. Research estimates that 3 in every 1000 people will develop schizoaffective disorder in their lifetime.Still, its difficult to know exactly how many people have the condition because of the challenging diagnosis. People with schizoaffective disorder have symptoms of two different mental health conditions. Some people might get misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. Others might get misdiagnosed with a mood disorder.
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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.
Treatment And Affording Treatment
Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have similar and different symptoms. Treatment for either mental illness might involve psychotherapy and medication. Both conditions are treatable. Fortunately, there are top-rated mental health centers in South Florida, such as Vista Pines Health, which can help you or someone you care about get the best care possible for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Many people with mental health disorders do not seek treatment because they feel they can manage their symptoms on their own or cannot afford proper care. They may try to self-medicate to alleviate their symptoms, which is never smart to do, as alcohol and drugs can worsen symptoms.
Mental health treatment does not have to break the bank, and it can be paid for in several ways. Some ways to pay for treatment could include:
- Health insurance private or work-sponsored
- Medical loans
- Short-term loans through a bank or credit union
- Family loans
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Schizophrenia: The 7 Keys To Self
Seek social support. Friends and family vital to helping you get the right treatment and keeping your symptoms under control. Regularly connecting with others face-to-face is also the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Stay involved with others by continuing your work or education. If thats not possible, consider volunteering, joining a schizophrenia support group, or taking a class or joining a club to spend time with people who have common interests. As well as keeping you socially connected, it can help you feel good about yourself.
Manage stress. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenic episodes by increasing the bodys production of the hormone cortisol. As well as staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels. Try adopting a regular relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Get regular exercise. As well as all the emotional and physical benefits, exercise may help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve your focus and energy, and help you feel calmer. Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or if its easier, three 10-minute sessions. Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing.
Living With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes. A person with bipolar disorder may be unaware theyre in the manic phase.
After the episode is over, they may be shocked at their behaviour. But at the time, they may believe other people are being negative or unhelpful.
Some people with bipolar disorder have more frequent and severe episodes than others.
The extreme nature of the condition means staying in a job may be difficult and relationships may become strained. Theres also an increased risk of suicide.
During episodes of mania and depression, someone with bipolar disorder may experience strange sensations, such as seeing, hearing or smelling things that are not there .
They may also believe things that seem irrational to other people . These types of symptoms are known as psychosis or a psychotic episode.
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Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder And Schizophrenia
Health care providers diagnose bipolar disorder and schizophrenia using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM, Plante explains. The clinician looks at the diagnostic criteria laid out and sees if the person meets it for either of these two conditions.
For schizophrenia, that means having at least two of the following symptoms: hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, agitated movement, and negative symptoms . One of the two necessary symptoms for a schizophrenia diagnosis has to be one of the first three listed here. The symptoms also have to be present for a significant amount of time during the span of a month.
A bipolar disorder diagnosis means having one or more manic or mixed episodes . The person must also have a period of mood disturbance and increased energy nearly every day for at least a week that includes three or more of the following: racing thoughts, inflated self-esteem or feelings of grandiosity, a reduced need for sleep, and extra risky behavior.
There is also a third distinct, albeit rare, disorder that can be diagnosed when a person exhibits symptoms of both conditions called schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed when a person meets the diagnostic criteria for both schizophrenia and a disorder like bipolar, Plante says.
Tip : Prepare For Crisis Situations
Despite your best efforts to prevent relapse, there may be times when your loved ones condition deteriorates rapidly and hospitalization is required to keep them safe. Having an emergency plan ready for an acute psychotic episode will help you handle the crisis safely and quickly. A good emergency plan for someone with schizophrenia includes:
- Emergency contact information for your loved ones doctor and therapists.
- The address and phone number of the hospital you will go to for psychiatric admission.
- Friends or relatives who will take care of other children or dependents while you deal with the crisis.
Its also wise to go over the emergency plan with your family member. The crisis situation may be less frightening to your loved one if they know what to expect during an emergency.
10 tips for handling a schizophrenia crisis
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Genetic Influences On The Individual Disorders
Prior to consideration of genetic relationships between schizophrenia, bipolar, and schizoaffective disorders, it is relevant to summarize the evidence for genetic influences on the individual disorders.
Results of family, twin, and adoption studies show a notably similar pattern for each disorder. Traditional family studies conducted during the 20th century based on clinically ascertained samples show substantial familial aggregation, with sibling relative risks of around 810 for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.,, More recently, considerably larger studies, based on Scandinavian national population registers, have substantiated the results of the earlier family studies.,, Results from the largest study, based on over 2 million families, are shown in .
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What Are The Signs Of Bipolar Disorder
Suspecting that you or a loved one has bipolar disorder can be scary and upsetting. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, highly effective treatment that allows individuals to manage symptoms to live fulfilling lives is available. It is essential to understand that the manic and depressive episodes that characterize bipolar disorder are highly unpredictable. You might experience rapid cycling moods that frequently occur, making life seem out of control. Alternatively, you might have only a few cycles separated by periods where everything seems normal.
Generally, the signs of bipolar disorder are divided into those for mania and those for depression. Following is a look at the most common symptoms for each.
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When Should I Call My Teens Healthcare Provider
Feels extreme depression, fear, anxiety, or anger toward him or herself or others
Feels out of control
Hears voices that others dont hear
Sees things that others dont see
Cant sleep or eat for 3 days in a row
Shows behavior that concerns friends, family, or teachers, and others express concern about this behavior and ask you to seek help
What Causes These Disorders
After years of research, doctors still dont know what causes schizophrenia. They think that chemical imbalances of dopamine and glutamate might play a role. Also, they know that people with schizophrenia often have physically different brains than those who dont. This might indicate that it happens during the development of the brain itself.
Doctors havent studied schizoaffective disorder for nearly as long. However, theyve made more breakthroughs. For example, doctors believe that the genes that control the bodys natural sleep and wake cycle contribute to this disorder.
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What Is Schizoaffective Disorder
People with schizoaffective disorder experience the same symptoms as schizophrenic patients and those with mood-related illnesses such as Bipolar Type I or II. In the United States, only 0.3% of people demonstrate these traits. While schizoaffective occurs equally in men and women, men are more likely to develop the illness in childhood or adolescence.
Some individuals with this disorder are depressive, while some are manic. Symptoms can either be mild or severe, with patients experiencing a mood episode several times a week. A person might also have disorganized speech, behavior, and thoughts.
Early Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without warning. But for most, it comes on slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning, long before the first severe episode. Often, friends or family members will know early on that something is wrong, without knowing exactly what.
In this early phase of schizophrenia, you may seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive to others. You may start to isolate yourself, begin neglecting your appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. You may abandon hobbies and activities, and your performance at work or school can deteriorate.
Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder has a number of types, including bipolar I and bipolar II disorder. Depending on how rapidly the mood swings occur, the episodes of bipolar disorder can also be described as having mixed features or rapid cycling features. About two-fifths of people with bipolar disorder have at least one period of rapid cycling over the course of their lifetime. For every type and duration of the illness, the sufferer experiences significant problems with his or her functioning at school, at work, socially or otherwise in their community, may need hospitalization, or may have psychotic symptoms . The diagnosis of bipolar I disorder requires that the individual has at least one manic episode but does not require a history of major depression. Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed if the person has experienced at least one episode of major depression and at least one episode of hypomania .
People with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia can expect their mental health professionals to consider several interventions, including medications, psychotherapies, and lifestyle advice. Medication treatment of bipolar disorder tends to address relieving already existing symptoms of the illness and preventing symptoms from returning. For schizophrenia, medications have been found to be effective in treating the positive symptoms .
Recovering From A Manic Episode
In the recovery period, its time to start regaining control over your life and schedule. Discuss with your mental health provider and loved ones what youve learned from the episode, such as possible triggers. You can also start reestablishing a schedule for sleeping, eating, and exercising.
Its important to think about what you can learn from this episode and how you can help yourself in the future. This will help you engage later in mania prevention.
Following a manic episode, many people gain insight into what may lead to their episodes. Examples of common mania triggers can include:
- drinking alcohol or abusing illegal drugs
- staying up all night and skipping sleep
- hanging out with others known to be an unhealthy influence
- going off your regular diet or exercise program
- stopping or skipping your medications
- skipping therapy sessions
Keeping yourself on a routine as much as possible can help reduce manic episodes. But keep in mind that it wont prevent them altogether.
If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, there are certain key preparations you may wish to make.
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