What is Schizoaffective Disorder (Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment)
Schizoaffective Disorder is a relatively less known and one of the rare forms of mental illnesses. While, most people may have a fair understanding of Bipolar or manic depressive disorder and many might be aware of the term of Schizophrenia, fewer have heard of Schizoaffective disorder. However, this mental illness afflicts almost 0.5% to 0.8% of the population in the US. Through this blog post you will get information on what is schizoaffective disorder, its symptoms, diagnostics tools used, and the present modes of treatments available to for this disease.
Schizo affective disorder is a psychiatric disease that is characterized by overlapping symptoms of both schizophrenia and affective (mood) disorders. The disease usually manifests itself as a mood disorder (usually in form of major depressive disorder or bipolar depression) coupled with at least 2 major symptoms of Schizophrenia (like delusions, flat personality, social withdrawal, etc.). Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic lifelong disease that affects each and every aspect of a person’s behavior and daily life. However, when compared to patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective patients seem to be more productive and have better chances of leading an almost normal life (albeit with continuous treatment).
Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective patients tend to manifest a varied spectrum of symptoms that vary from pure mood disorders to pure Schizophrenia. Moreover the symptoms may also vary within the patient with every episode of mania, depression, or hallucination. However, there are a few classic symptoms that have been enlisted below:
- Depressive symptoms like lack of interest in life or carrying out daily activities, loss of appetite, fatigue, malaise, guilt, inferiority complex etc.
- Manic symptoms like agitation, inability to concentrate, hyperactive behavious, suicidal tendency, etc.
- Schizophrenic symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, etc.
Here is a personal account of a person suffering schizoaffective disorder.
As mentioned in the video, while the exact cause of this condition is still under investigation, many believe that genetics, improper signaling of never impulses, hormonal imbalance, and poor early childhood environment are some of the probable risk factors.
Diagnoses of Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is considered as one of the most confusing mental health illnesses, which even several psychiatrists find difficult in diagnosing. Like other mental disease, diagnosis is based upon patient and relative interviews and observing the patient from a distance for a better understanding of the symptoms exhibited by the patient. However, due to the overlapping of several of the symptoms with other more common disorders like depression or schizophrenia, make this condition highly difficult to be diagnosed. Usually a doctor may look out for Schizophrenic episodes during the normal mood phase of the person.
Treatment of Schizoaffective Disorder
There is no single treatment that is available to treat or manage this condition. Schizoaffective disorder is usually treated with a combination of several treatment modes including anti psychotic drugs, anti depressive drugs, psychotherapy, counseling, etc. however, there is a great scope for improvement and fortunately several new clinical trials underway are working towards development of better and more efficient modes of treating this condition. For further details do refer to the list of schizoaffective clinical trials.