Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective is relatively rare, with a lifetime prevalence of only 0.3%

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What Is It?

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression.

The Science Behind It

The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is unknown. A combination of causes may contribute to the development of schizoaffective disorder.

  • Genetics. Schizoaffective disorder tends to run in families. This does not mean that if a relative has an illness, you will absolutely get it. But it does mean that there is a greater chance of you developing the illness.
  • Brain chemistry and structure. Brain function and structure may be different in ways that science is only beginning to understand. Brain scans are helping to advance research in this area.
  • Stress. Stressful events such as a death in the family, end of a marriage or loss of a job can trigger symptoms or an onset of the illness.
  • Drug use. Psychoactive drugs such as LSD have been linked to the development of schizoaffective disorder.

Warning Signs

Depending on the type of mood disorder diagnosed, depression or bipolar disorder, people will experience different symptoms:

  • Hallucinations, which are seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.
  • Delusions, which are false, fixed beliefs that are held regardless of contradictory evidence.
  • Disorganized thinking. A person may switch very quickly from one topic to another or provide answers that are completely unrelated.
  • Depressed mood. If a person has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder depressive type they will experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, feelings of worthlessness or other symptoms of depression.
  • Manic behavior. If a person has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type they will experience feelings of euphoria, racing thoughts, increased risky behavior and other symptoms of mania.

Common Misconceptions

Schizoaffective disorder is the same as schizophrenia

Schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are related, but separate conditions. First, schizoaffective disorder incorporates schizophrenia symptoms with additional mood disorder symptoms. Both symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder must be present for a person to be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. In addition, hallucinations and delusions must be present for a minimum of two weeks without a manic or depressive episode, and symptoms cannot be caused by medication or drug use. People diagnosed with schizophrenia don’t exhibit any symptoms of an underlying mood disorder.

Schizoaffective disorder isn’t treatable

There are many schizoaffective disorder treatments currently available. A typical schizoaffective disorder treatment plan is dependent on the diagnosis type. See below for Treatments for details below.

Treatments

Schizoaffective disorder is treated and managed in several ways:

  • Medications, including mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications and antidepressants
  • Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or family-focused therapy
  • Self-management strategies and education

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Medical Disclaimer: Brain Health Bootcamp aims to promote education and awareness of mental health conditions among adolescents, families, and educators. We publish material that is researched, cited, and drawn from sources reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.