The overwhelming response of our readers to our blogs (What is schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, Understanding schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia) on schizoaffective disorder has inspired us to explore the condition further. We will be unraveling experiences, research, new treatments available for patients diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in the new series. We welcome our readers to keep on encouraging us by sharing their experiences, commenting, and writing in.
Schizoaffective disorder has always been an enigma of sorts. A combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorders (bipolar and unipolar), make it rather difficult to diagnose it accurately. Estimates suggest that majority of people, who are diagnosed with schizophrenia or mood disorders, in reality, suffer from schizoaffective disorder. Among the many difficult to diagnose mental disorders, schizoaffective disorder may be considered the most confusing.
Ideally defined as ‘the presence of psychotic symptoms in the absence of mood changes for a period of two weeks minimum, in a patient who has mood disorder’, schizoaffective disorder is usually diagnosed when patient does not fit in with standard diagnostic presentations of either schizophrenia or mood disorders.
Schizoaffective disorder can be very disconcerting to sufferers. It is generally a life-long illness that impacts all walks of a person’s life, including, work, daily living, social contacts, and relationships. Even though there are no targeted cures for the condition, symptoms can be controlled by personalized treatment. The diagnosis usually comes through a complete medical history and physical examination. Physicians may use some blood tests and x-rays to rule out physical illness as a cause of presenting symptoms. Once this is ruled out, patient may be referred to mental health professionals for treatment.
A combination of mood stabilizing and antipsychotic medications along with antidepressants is the usual course of treatment for patients diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Personalized treatment including psychosocial interventions and medications can greatly aid in avoiding relapses and maintain appropriate functioning and quality of life.