Schizoaffective Disorder

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The term schizoaffective disorder refers to a mental illness that is characterized by symptoms of thought disorder and mood disorder that “are usually thought to run in different families, involved different brain mechanisms, develop in different ways, and respond to different treatments” (Mental Health America, 2007).

The schizophrenia component or though disorder may include delusions, hallucinations and distorted thinking while the manic or mood component may include depression or mania.Although schizoaffective disorder does not threaten a person’s life, the damage it creates can be considered fatal because it is the mind of the person that is affected. Thus, it is important to be able to identify probable cases of schizoaffective disorder in order to eliminate worse cases. The identity and mentality of the person is involved and thus, it is not something that should be taken for granted.

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Since schizoaffective disorder includes 2 different entities, schizophrenia and mood disorder, diagnosis and treatment of patients is really difficult.In order for the diagnosis to be made, the patient must first meet the criteria for schizophrenia and that for major depressive disorder. Having psychosis without a mood disorder for at least two weeks is also a criterion. Schizoaffective disorder is present when the patient was diagnosed to have features of both mood disorder and schizophrenia but was not able to meet the diagnosis of either of the two.

There are 4 cases in which a person is able to receive diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. First is if the person has schizophrenia as well as the mood symptoms.Second is if the person has a mood disorder and at the same time, symptoms of schizophrenia. Third is when the person has both schizophrenia and mood disorder and the last is when the person has a psychotic condition, aside from schizophrenia, along with a mood disorder.

Another requirement for the diagnosis is that the conditions mentioned above were not effects of a substance or because of medical conditions because these factors may also affect the conditions mentioned above and thus, a diagnosis would have not been necessary.Due to the association between schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia, differences between the two should also be noted in order to make proper actions and medications. A person with affective disorder seems normal and as time passes by, they don’t seem to become disabled in a serious manner. On the other hand, people with schizophrenia rarely look normal.

Their condition also worsens through time. This distinction is should be remembered to lessen the processes involved in dealing with uncertainty.Schizoaffective disorder is also associated with several features such as poor occupational functioning as well as restricted range of social contact. Other features also include difficulties in self-care and increased in the risk of committing suicide.

However, negative symptoms associated with schizoaffective disorder are less severe than the symptoms of schizophrenia. Some of the symptoms associated with schizoaffective disorder include unusual thoughts, paranoid thoughts and ideas, having false and fixed beliefs (delusions), hallucination even in the form of hearing voices, confusion and manic mood.Irritability and poor temper control can also be observed as well as suicidal or homicidal thoughts, lack of response, attention and memory deficit, energy and appetite changes, sleep disturbances that include difficulty in falling asleep as well as staying asleep and lack of interest or concern when it comes to hygiene or physical appearance. No study had been done on the lifetime prevalence of the schizoaffective disorder but estimates indicated that in the United States, it is about 0.

32%. However, the prevalence rates in global sense is said to be difficult to determine due to the changes in the criteria over the years.Although the main cause of schizoaffective disorder is yet unknown, “it may be due to in utero exposure to viruses, malnutrition, or even birth complications” (Brannon, 2007). Schizoaffective disorder is divided into two subtypes, bipolar type and depressive type, which are based on the mood components of the disorder.

The bipolar type “applies if a Manic Episode or mixed episode is part of the presentation” but Major Depressive Episodes may also occur (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). On the other hand, depressive type “apllies if only Major Depressive Episodes are part of the presentation” (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).Bipolar subtype can be usually seen in young persons associated with schizoaffective disorder while older persons with schizoaffective disorder tend to have the depressive subtype. Thus, the age of the person itself is useful in identifying the subtype associated with the disorder.

Biology also is an important factor to look at. Studies indicated that the chance of people who has relatives that are determined to have schizoaffective disorder is also taking higher risk associated with mood disorders. It is assumed that schizoaffective disorder affects the development of a child’s brain.Genetics is considered as one main factor in the development of the mental disorder.

Such biological factors include having a relative that is known to have schizophrenia, mood disorder or schizoaffective disorder. The risk of developing schizophrenia is also a biological consideration that affects the development of schizoaffective disorder. Other than the established criteria in the diagnosis of suspected patients with schizoaffective disorder, the medical history of the patient is also needed. Other examinations also consist of physical examination, mental status examination and neurologic examination.

These examinations are done in order to assist the evaluation as well as to rule out other disease processes involved. Patient diagnosis also shows that there is no race-based difference associated with the mental illness. It is found that schizoaffective disorder is more commonly seen in women rather than in men. However, men diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder tend to exhibit behaviors that are in contrast with other personality traits and anti-social traits that can be observed.

Although it is more common in women, the age of which schizoaffective disorder occurs is later for women than that of men.Most often, psychiatrist’s uses anti-psychotic medication and lithium in dealing with patients with schizoaffective disorder combined with counseling. However, the exact type of medication varies according to the severity of the symptoms as well as whether it was a bipolar or depressive type. Most of the time, the main aim of doctors in medication is to stabilize the patients mood, treat depression and to alleviate psychotic symptoms.

There are three types of medications that can be use on patients with schizoaffective disorder.The first one is the use of antipsychotics, also known as neuroleptics, that alleviates psychotic symptoms including hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. Examples of antipsychotics are clozapine (Clozaril), olanzapine (Zyprexa) and risperidone (Risperdal). The second medication is the mood-stabilizing medication that is used in bipolar types.

This stabilizer can balance bipolar disorder. Examples of mood-stabilizers include lithium and divalproex (Depakote). The third medication is the use antidepressants that can alleviate a person’s negative feelings such as hopelessness and sadness.Examples are citapram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro) and fluoxetine (Prozac).

Carbamazepine combined with lithium is also being used. To be able to differentiate between bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is not that critical in dealing with schizoaffective disorder since anti-psychotic medication is intended for all of them. There is also a way of dealing with schizoaffective disorder without the use of medications such as psychotherapy and counseling that helps the person to understand the situation as well as to be hopeful about the future.The focus here is in real-life problems, plans and as well as relationships.

Family or group therapy may also be used in which individuals with schizoaffective disorder were able to discussed real-life situations/problems. This can also help the patients in decreasing their isolation from the community. Schizoaffective disorder may not seem fatal but the effects of can be felt and seen. It is important that this mental illness be dealt with in the earliest time possible to prevent worsening of the situation.

There are methods and as well as medications that are available today that can be used in such cases. The problem now is whether to act on reducing schizoaffective disorder cases or to just ignore this kind of illness. However, as mentioned earlier, the effects are for real and can really change a person’s life. Schizoaffective disorder is not a battle between the disease itself, the doctors and the patients.

Everyone must be involved in order to protect those who are dear to us from this mental illness. This matter should be taken seriously.

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Schizoaffective Disorder. (2017, May 03). Retrieved from

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