Schizoaffective disorder is a psychiatric diagnosis describing a situation where both the symptoms of mood disorder and psychosis are present. The disorder usually begins in early adulthood, and is more common in women. There are two sub-types of schizoaffective disorder: the bipolar type type and the depressive type. The bipolar type has a better prognosis than the depressive type, which can have a residual defect with the passing of time. Bipolar schizoaffective disorder is more similar to bipolar disorder than schizophrenia. People with bipolar disorder may also suffer from isolated episodes of schizoaffective disorders.
Signs & Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder
The following are the criteria for a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV):
A. Two (or more) of the following symptoms are present for the majority of a one-month period:
disorganized speech (e.g., frequent derailment or incoherence)
grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
negative symptoms (i.e., affective flattening, alogia, or avolition)
Note: Only one of these symptoms is required if delusions are bizarre or hallucinations consist of a voice keeping up a running commentary on the person’s behavior or thoughts, or two or more voices conversing with each other.
AND at some time there is either a:
major depressive episode
B. During the same period of illness, there have been delusions or hallucinations for at least two weeks in the absence of prominent mood symptoms.
C. Symptoms that meet criteria for a mood episode are present for a substantial portion of the total duration of the active and residual periods of the illness.
D. The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition.
Bipolar Type – if the disturbance includes:
manic and major depressive episodes
mixed and major depressive episode
Depressive Type – if the disturbance inludes major depressive episodes exclusively.
Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder
The psychiatric treatment for schizoaffective disorder is a combination of therapy and medicine. A licensed psychiatrist will prescribe different combinations of medicine to the patient in order to find the combination that works. Each person responds differently to medicine.
Common medicines used to treat schizoaffective disorder:
Often a sleeping pill will initially be prescribed to allow the patient rest from his or her anxiety or hallucinations.
Lisa Angelettie, M.S.W., is a psychotherapist, author, and life coach. She has been helping people make smarter life choices since 1998. Get more free tips like this when you subscribe to the GirlShrink newsletter .
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