Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder vs Schizophrenia

Schizoaffective disorder can turn to be severe, at times.

Schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia might have certain common points, but these are two different types of mental illness, all together.

Schizoaffective disorder is characterized by two different conditions, between which one is schizophrenia. The other major mental condition for schizoaffective disorder can be either bipolar disorder or any type of major depression.

Schizophrenia is described as a type of brain disorder, which affects the emotional status of the person. The person affected with schizophrenia has difficulty in perceiving reality causing abnormality in the thought process as well as the actions.

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia

A person suffering from schizoaffective disorder will experience certain symptoms like hallucination, delusions and abnormal thinking, which are also same for schizophrenia.  However, the person can also face severe mood change and depression, which is not present for schizophrenic patients. The other major symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include appetite loss, loss of body weight, agitation, feeling of worthlessness, thoughts of suicide etc.

The main symptom of Schizophrenia is hallucinations, but it is not related to any type of depression.

Causes behind schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia

Exact causes behind schizoaffective disorder is not known, however it could be inherited or can be a combination of chronic stages of schizophrenia and depression. However, causes behind schizophrenia are usually genetic, chemical and abnormalities in brain.

Since both of these mental illnesses have almost same type of symptoms, it is very challenging to diagnose the exact disease. The patient of schizoaffective disorder often feels difficulty in adjusting to normal and regular life style in school or office or at any social gathering.  Symptoms of this disease can be mild or severe and can last for any duration. Patients with this mental sickness experience periodic episode of mild or severe symptoms. There is as such no specific diagnostic test to find out whether a person is affected with schizoaffective disorder or not. Psychiatrists use special kind of assessment tools for evaluation of the exact situation. Patients are kept under regular attention to notice their change in behavioral status. The diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is confirmed only when the patient experiences a combination of both problems – schizophrenia, mania or major depression.

Treatment of schizoaffective disorder is performed through medication, psychotherapy and skills training. As mentioned earlier, there is no complete cure from this illness, however much relief can be provided to the patients by controlling the symptoms and applying certain effective skills. Medication associated to schizophrenia, are also used to take care of the schizophrenic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, unorganized thought process etc. Medication can also control the depressive mood and can reduce the extremity of depression. In severe situation, patient might require hospitalization to provide adequate medical support. Prevention of schizoaffective disorder is also not possible, but if it is diagnosed at an earlier stage, much relief can be provided to the patients.

However, there are several developments being worked on to find out effective treatment for schizoaffective disorder. Clinical trials on schizoaffective disorder are also producing positive results for the patients. Some of the links for clinical trials on schizoaffective disorder are given here.

Adult Schizoaffective Disorder Medical Study (OMSJA 3004) – Maitland/Orlando

A Placebo-controlled Efficacy Study of IV Ceftriaxone for Refractory Psychosis

Effects of Pravastatin on Cholesterol Inflammation and Cognition in Schizophrenia

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9 thoughts on “Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder vs Schizophrenia

  1. From reading the above it seems to me that nobody knows anything for sure about these “diseases” – they don’t know the difference, the cause, nor a satisfactory treatment, so why are they continuing to use brain-damaging drugs which don’t cure but are proven to cause brain damage? Poor patients! Words fail me!

  2. Catherine, I feel you are uninformed about these illnesses. Though there is no cure for schizophrenia or schioaffective disorder, there are many medications which do help to control the symptoms and allow people suffering from these diseases to live a more normal life. The medications used to treat these disorders are not brain-damaging as you state. I encourage you to read up on the literature. Many studies have shown psychoactive medications are the most important part of treatment. 70% of patients with schizophrenia clearly improve when they take antipsychotic medications, 25% improve minimally or not at all, while only 5% get worse. This effectiveness is akin to penicillin for treating pneumonia or streptomycin for tuberculosis.
    Just because we can’t cure a disease, doesn’t mean it’s not real. Antipsychotic medications help to control the symptoms of schizophrenia much the same way insulin helps to control diabetes.

  3. I have a 13 yr old daughter who has a drug counselor. She’s an addict and it was suggested that she may be suffering from schizoaffective disorder. She’s had many diagnosis. I just want to help her.

  4. May I say something….. These chemicals are affecting my health they kill me but keep me from killing myself. I assure anyone with either one of these diagnoses would never make it without extensive and persistent treatment. How do I know? I was diagnosed with schizo-affective bipolar type at age 14. I suffer from visual auditory and and very rare tactile (feel things that aren’t there) hallucinations. Individually or all at the same time. My father didn’t believe in medicine either but my mother wanted to get any and all help available. Thankfully to for I have had multiple suicide attempts and numerous hospitalizations willing and unwilling. If this brings more thought and personal experience to the readers then let me tell you the key difference in what I have noticed between schizophrenia and schizo affective disorder. I have met both pure schizophrenics and schizo-affectives in alternative school for the mentally ill and inpatient and outpatient facilities and even though I am no doctor and this is only theory but in my experience schizophrenics are more well, out of it so to speak. Have you ever been around an untreated very sick full blown schizophrenic they will sometimes talk to themselves are believe something and not realize how insane they might be sounding where people like me with schizo-affective seem to know and somewhat comprehend that something is wrong and that these things are not supposed to be happening to us. Thus why I feel we have the highest suicide rate of all mental disorders. At least that’s what made me want to through in the towel. No matter how hard I tried and knew it wasn’t real. It still haunts me. I think knowing more than not knowing what is real can be much more stressful on a human being. Because I know the difference. I hope that this helped and like I said this is theory but I have schizo affective bipolar type and have met several with my disorder and schizophrenia. Every time I have noticed this difference……Have you guys?

  5. Thanks for your excellent and very special contribution, Joshua! I work in a psychiatric & substance abuse facility. Although I’m not part of the clinical staff, I have long had an interest in psychology and psychiatry.

    My very strong suspicion has always been that most — if not all — people afflicted with these disorders are in fact victims of sexual abuse. I think it is the most mind-damaging thing that can occur in the development of a child’s developing brain. The thing is, many sexual abuse victims will never tell, even if they are lucid enough to remember it. I believe that many are so mentally broken by their experiences that there is no possibility of that, and that the confusion of the “real” with the unreal is in fact a defense mechanism against the insanity to which they have been subjected.

    So basically, I’m on the psychologists’ side, with very little confidence in the “genetic” model.

  6. I’ve been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder twice so far. One when I was 11 and just last week now that I’m 20. I have been told I have depression, anxiety, bipolar, and aspurgers all starting from when I was 5. I have a one year old and I pray she won’t inherit my problems too. The doctor I talked to no sooner I asked about working, gave me a “you aren’t safe enough to work” look. I want to recover enough to at least have some sort of part time job eventually.

  7. Joshua,
    I thought your comment was really insightful and helpful. My adult son has schizaffective disorder, and when you described him, you described him well. He is very much “in touch” and I believe you are right, this is why he had went through major depression. It really helps to have a better understanding in general. Thank you again for sharing.

  8. Leah,
    I thought your comment was really terrible and offensive. My baby daughter has AIDS, and when you described her, you described her badly. She is very much “out of touch” and I believe you are wrong, this is why she had went through major elation. It doesn’t help at all to have a worse understanding in general. I wish you hadn’t shared

  9. Pingback: Major Depressive Disorder Vs Schizophrenia Test | Depression Blog

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