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Schizoaffective Disorder - Schizoaffective Disorder Symptoms, Treatment

Schizoaffective disorder includes elements of both psychosis and mood disorder. Psychotic symptoms mean a loss of contact with reality, and may include hallucinations (hearing voices or seeing things that are not present), and delusions (false, fixed beliefs). Symptoms of mood disorder include very low or very high mood with sleep disturbances, changes in energy and appetite, disrupted concentration, and generally poor daily function. Schizoaffective illness features a close interconnection between these 2 sets of symptoms.

About one in every two hundred people (1/2 percent) develops schizoaffective disorder at some time during his or her life. Schizoaffective disorder, along with schizophrenia, is one of the most common serious psychiatric disorders. More hospital beds are occupied by persons with these disorders than any other psychiatric disorder.

Schizoaffective Disorder is an often debilitating mental illness characterized by symptoms of a thought disorder (hallucinations and/or irrational thinking) and a mood disorder (depression or manic activity). This illness may present a variety of symptoms from each category, and symptoms may be mild or severe.

Schizoaffective disorder appears to be a combination of a thought disorder, mood disorder, and anxiety disorder. Thus the medical management of schizoaffective disorder oftens requires a combination of antipsychotic, antidepressant, and antianxiety medication.

Causes of Schizoaffective Disorder

The cause of schizoaffective disorder is not known, although many scientists believe it is a variant of the disorder of schizophrenia. Schizoaffective disorder (and schizophrenia) may actually be several disorders. Current theories suggest that an imbalance in brain chemicals (specifically, dopamine) may be at the root of these two disorders. Vulnerability to developing schizoaffective disorder appears to be partly determined by genetic factors and partly by early environmental factors (such as subtle insults to the brain of the baby in the womb during birth).

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

The clinical signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include all the signs and symptoms of psychotic and mood disorders, appearing together or in alternating fashion. The course feature cycles of worsening and improvement, or long-term deterioration. The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder vary greatly from person to person.

  • Symptoms of clinical depression and mania include:
    • Elevated, inflated, or depressed mood
    • Irritability and poor temper control
    • Symptoms that could be seen during a manic or depressed state (changes in appetite, energy, sleep)
  • Psychotic symptoms that persist for at least 2 weeks without significant mood symptoms:
    • Hallucinations (particularly auditory hallucinations, "hearing voices")
    • Delusions of reference (for example, believing that someone on TV or the radio is speaking directly to you or that secret messages are hidden in common objects)
    • Paranoia (a feeling that everyone or a particular person or agency is out to get you)
    • Deteriorating concern with hygiene, grooming
    • Disorganized and illogical speech

Schizophrenic apathy and an incapacity for pleasure can also be mistaken for depression. Often a diagnosis has to be changed from one kind of major mental disorder to the other. In a recent study of more than 936 people with a severe psychiatric disorder who were hospitalized at least four times in a seven-year period, investigators found that about 25% of those originally given other diagnoses and 33% of those originally given other diagnoses had a final diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Treatment of Schizoaffective Disorder

Patients with concurrent schizophrenic and mood symptoms are often treated with antipsychotics plus antidepressant or thymoleptic drugs.

The most common treatment for schizoaffective disorder is a combination of mood stabilizing and antipsychotic medications, sometimes with additional antidepressants. As noted by NAMI, since the medications used to treat Bipolar I with psychotic features are generally the same as those used to treat schizoaffective disorder, making the distinction between these two conditions is not of great therapeutic importance. Of far greater impact in terms of proper treatment would be a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia rather than schizoaffective disorder, since the needed mood stabilizer could be left out of the patient's drug therapy.

Empirical data suggest that both groups of patients are best treated by optimizing antipsychotic treatment and that atypical antipsychotics may prove to be most effective. Adjunctive antidepressants may be useful for patients with major depression who are not acutely ill. Careful longitudinal assessment is required to ensure identification of primary mood disorders.

Facts and Tips about Schizoaffective Disorder

  • Schizoaffective disorder is related with psychological illness or mood disorder.
  • Schizoaffective disorder indicates symptoms like depression, delusion, fantasy, fear, lack of sleep.
  • This disorder is mostly found in women than men.
  • Neuroleptic and anti-depressant drugs and psychological therapies are effective to boost up the mood of patient.
  • Diagnosis is depended on CT scan report, experiences and activities of patient.
  • Avoid smoking and cafferine to control depression and lack of sleep.

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