How Neuropsychological Testing May Help With Diagnosing
Thus far, there is not a definitive qEEG finding that, by providing a picture of the brain, allows us to distinguish between schizoaffective and bipolar disorders. Typically, with both disorders, there is often visible dysregulation in the prefrontal circuitry of the brain, suggesting impairment of executive function. In other words, both schizoaffective and bipolar disorder may manifest as dysregulation on a qEEG.
In these cases, neuropsychological testing may provide additional diagnostic information by allowing me to measure a patients executive functions such as problem-solving, organization and planning, and visual and verbal abstract reasoning. Typically, someone with schizoaffective disorder will be more severely impaired in these areas involving executive functioning, in addition to other neurocognitive domains such as processing speed and attention and vigilance. In contrast, someone with bipolar disorder may suffer impairment in these same areas but to a lesser degree.
In general, its safe to say that neurocognitive impairments are not as severe with bipolar disorder as they are with schizoaffective disorder.
Schizoaffective and bipolar disorders can be serious pathologies. In the event that you or a loved one is suffering from debilitating symptoms, early intervention and diagnosis are key to a better treatment outcome. When you insist on an accurate diagnosis, youll be furthering your own health and improving your quality of life.
What If I Am A Carer Friend Or Relative
What support can I get?
You can get support if you care for someone with schizoaffective disorder. These are some options for you:
- Family Intervention through the NHS
- Join a carers service
- Join a carers support group
- Ask your local authority for a carers assessment
- Read about the condition
- Apply for welfare benefits for carers
Rethink Mental Illness run carers support groups in some areas. You can also search for groups on the Carers Trust website:
Rethink Mental Illness: www.rethink.org/about-us/our-support-groups Carers Trust www.carers.org/search/network-partners
How can I support the person I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with schizoaffective disorder if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills.
You should be aware of what you can do if you are worried about their mental state or risk of self-harm. It can be helpful to know contact information for their mental health team or GP.
You could find out from your relative if they have a crisis plan. You could help your relative to make a crisis plan if they dont have one.
You can find out more information about:
The Good News About Bipolar And Schizophrenia
While having either of these illnesses represents a lifelong diagnosis, the good news is that both are treatable. With proper medication, ongoing therapy, social support, and the utilization of community resources those who live with schizophrenia or bipolar 1 or bipolar 2 disorder can go on to live meaningful, productive, stable, and happy lives.
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Multiple Identities Delusions Or Hallucinations
Some people confuse the multiple identities of DID for the delusions or hallucinations of schizophrenia, but they arent the same.
To break down the difference between these symptoms, lets define them:
- Delusions. False beliefs that are not based in reality. If you have delusions, you believe them despite evidence to the contrary, even if everyone else believes otherwise. There are many types of delusions, including grandiose, bizarre, persecutory, and somatic .
- Hallucinations. False perceptions when someone sees, hears, or feels something thats not actually happening. These sensory experiences feel real, but theyre not.
- Multiple identities. Also called alternate identities or alters, these occur when someone has more than one personality state. This alternate personality may appear to function separately from another. Alternate identities may have distinct behaviors, memories, expressions, languages, ages, and more. For instance, an alter of a 30-year-old female could be a 12-year-old male.
Psychotic Symptoms That Can Co
Delusions and hallucinations are psychotic symptoms and can occur with either schizoaffective or bipolar disorder. The point with psychotic symptoms is that the person is seeing and hearing things that arent there or are having beliefs that are not grounded in reality.
Delusions are false beliefs guiding behavior and can include delusions of grandeur and paranoid delusions. Hallucinations are sensory perceptions and can include hearing voices, seeing shapes, colors, things, or people who arent there, smelling something unpleasant that is not there, having unreal, tactile sensations , or experiencing an unpleasant and non-existent flavor.
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Key Considerations When Diagnosing Schizoaffective/bipolar Disorder
A common profile of those who come to me for help determining whether they have schizoaffective or bipolar disorder is that of young adults who have had their very first psychotic episode. They may have been at work and not feeling great and depressed for several weeks when they started having the belief that their coworker was hacking into their computer. When they brought the matter to their supervisor, the supervisor referred them to treatment.
Making this determination is critical to accurately diagnosing schizoaffective vs. bipolar disorder. Keep in mind that one of the primary criteria for a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is the presence of delusions or hallucinations for two weeks in the absence of a mood disorder .
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.
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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.
Differences Between Bipolar Disorder And Schizophrenia
Psychosis, which includes hallucinations and delusions, is a hallmark symptom of schizophrenia. People with bipolar I disorder can have psychotic symptoms during mania and/or depression, and those with bipolar II can have them during an episode of depression. So while bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can share a set of serious symptoms, when distinguishing between the two disorders, doctors look at the differences between symptoms and also give different weight to some of the shared symptoms.
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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.
Bipolar With Psychotic Features
Psychosis describes a disconnect from reality, a state of mind where you have trouble recognizing whats real and what isnt. In terms of bipolar disorder, psychosis mainly refers to hallucinations or delusions.
Other key symptoms of psychosis, such as changes in sleep patterns or problems with concentration, can seem very similar to those that characterize mood episodes.
- delusions of grandeur, such as a feeling of invincibility
- racing or rambling speech
- hallucinations that affect any of your five senses
These symptoms can be mood congruent, meaning theyre consistent with your other symptoms. They can also be mood incongruent, or inconsistent with your other symptoms. Believing you have superpowers during an episode of depression, for example, would be considered mood-incongruent psychosis.
Psychosis can happen during both manic and depressive episodes. An episode of hypomania that involves psychosis automatically meets the criteria for mania.
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What Causes Schizoaffective Disorder
Psychiatrists dont know precisely what causes schizoaffective disorder. But we do know that you will have a chemical imbalance in your brain if you have the condition.
Research shows that genetic and environmental factors can increase your risk of developing the illness.
What are genetic factors?
Schizoaffective disorder is slightly more common if other members of your family have schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder. This suggests that genetics may have a role to play in the development of schizoaffective disorder.
What are environmental factors?
Environmental factors are your personal experiences. It is thought that stress can contribute towards a schizoaffective episode. Stress can be caused by many different things such as bereavement, debt or employment problems.
It is thought that childhood trauma can be a factor in the condition developing in later life. Research shows that bad treatment in your childhood can make psychosis more likely.
There is information on self-help techniques further down this page. Self help can help you to manage your symptoms and stress.
You can find out more information ‘Does Mental Illness Run in Families?’ by clicking here.
What Is The Difference Between Bipolar And Schizophrenia
What is the difference between bipolar and schizophrenia? The symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are often very similar, which can lead to difficulties in diagnosing the right disorder. Consequently, it is not unusual for members of the public to confuse the two illnesses and mistakenly refer to one when in fact they mean the other.
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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.
How To Know Whether Psychotic Symptoms Are Schizoaffective Or Bipolar
Because psychotic symptoms can underlie a diagnosis of either bipolar or schizoaffective disorder, its important to take note of when the psychotic symptoms occur, for how long they occur, and when they go awayif at all. These criteria, when considered together, probably hold the most sway in distinguishing schizoaffective from bipolar disorder.
With bipolar disorder, psychotic symptoms can manifest when youre depressed or when youre manic. A key difference is that these symptoms tend to occur only when a person is having that mood episode, and once that mood episode has been controlled with the help of medication, the psychotic symptoms dissipate. For example, you can be manic for seven days, during which time you can be convinced youre a celebrity, but once you get treatment and the episode remits, those delusions of grandeur will pass.
In contrast, with schizoaffective disorder, the psychotic symptoms can occur seemingly out of the blue, are unattached to mood changes, and must occur for at least two weeks in order to be diagnosed as schizoaffective.
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What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder share enough similarities that even mental health professionals sometimes find it challenging to distinguish between the two conditions.
Bipolar disorder with psychotic features, in particular, might involve a similar pattern of symptoms as schizoaffective disorder, which can lead to misdiagnosis.
Still, despite the overlap, a few key differences between the conditions do exist.
What Are Causes And Risk Factors For Bipolar Disorder And Schizophrenia
Like most mental disorders, neither bipolar disorder nor schizophrenia is directly passed down genetically. Rather, each is the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. These two illnesses share a number of the same risk genes but also have some unique genetic risk factors. Stress has been found to be a significant contributor to the development of most mental health conditions, including both of these disorders.
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Understanding Dissociative Identity Disorder And Schizophrenia
On the surface, the connection between dissociative identity disorder, once known as multiple personality disorder, and schizophrenia seems straightforward: In both cases, people may assume ideas and behaviors not consistent with the reality of their situation. These disorders are often confused by the general public, acknowledges Dr. Barnett. But dissociative identity disorder is very different from schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
In DID, says Dr. Barnett, a person has at least two distinctive personalities that alternate to control a persons behavior at different times. People with DID also tend to have severe gaps in memory and usually have experienced extreme trauma during childhood, he adds. And unlike schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, which are primarily treated with medications, people with DID are usually treated with psychotherapy.
Meanwhile, some clinicians call into the question of the use of DID as a diagnosis. It is best conceived as a construct used to conceptualize people who have intense and difficult to manage emotional states, says Dr. Russell Margolis, MD, clinical director of the Johns Hopkins Schizophrenia Center in Baltimore. It is a narrative used by some clinicianswhether use of this narrative is helpful is controversial.
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.
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What You Can Do Now
If you need some relief now, there are few things you can do to help yourself feel better, such as get an adequate amount of sleep, eat a healthy diet every day, find and practice ways to destress, and take any prescribed medication from your doctor on schedule. Also, lean on your support system. They are there to give you comfort and strength when you need it, and more so when you have days when you are feeling hopeless.
The symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be alarming and unnerving when they are not treated when they occur. They can cause great distress in life, disrupt daily activities, and ruin valued relationships. Today is a good day to reach out and get help.
Written by: Rebecca Bryan
About Vista Pines Health: Vista Pines Health is a mental health treatment program that is dedicated to providing quality care to those who are suffering from mental disorders. Conveniently located in sunny Pembroke Pines, Florida, we help clients, from all over the country, find healing from conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Our programs are designed to put the client first every step of the way, helping them conquer the struggles they deal with on a daily basis.
Difference Between Schizophrenia And Alzheimers
June 13, 2018 Posted by Ranidu
The key difference between Schizophrenia and Alzheimers is that the Schizophrenia is a psychiatric illness, but Alzheimers is a neurological disorder.
Schizophrenia and Alzheimers disease are chronic debilitating diseases that severely hinder the patients ability to maintain a normal life. Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder, involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions, and feelings, withdrawal from reality into fantasy and delusions and a sense of mental fragmentation. Alzheimers, on the other hand, is widely regarded as the commonest cause of dementia.
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