There is still a lot of stigma and misunderstanding around schizoaffective disorder. Many people still see this mental illness as some sort of “wild” disorder that there is no coming back from. This is, of course, mainly due to the way that the condition was diagnosed and treated throughout the early 20th Century, as well as the way that it has long been depicted in popular culture. However, all of this thinking is off-base. There are two types of schizoaffective disorder, and neither of them is the same as they have long been portrayed.
What Exactly Is Schizoaffective Disorder?
Schizoaffective disorder is quite regularly confused with schizophrenia. This is understandable, as it does share many of the same characteristics with the disorder. However, the difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is that schizoaffective disorder also has symptoms of mood disorders, where schizophrenia does not. The specific mood disorders that overlap with schizoaffective disorder include bipolar disorder and major depression.
According to Doctors Wy and Saadabadi in their clinical write-up Schizoaffective Disorder, “Schizoaffective disorder is among the most frequently misdiagnosed psychiatric disorders in clinical practice.” They explain further, “Some studies show that as high as 50% of people with schizophrenia also have comorbid depression.” However, the comorbidity of depression is only solely specific to one of the types of schizoaffective disorder, though it is present in both.
Schizoaffective disorder is categorized into two types. These are schizoaffective disorder bipolar type and schizoaffective disorder depressive type. While both of them have characteristics of both schizophrenia and depression, only the bipolar type also involves symptoms of mania. However, they do share many of the same symptoms of schizophrenia.
The Warning Signs and Symptoms Common to Both Types of Schizoaffective Disorder
Now, before moving on to the specific signs and symptoms of both types of schizoaffective disorder, it can be helpful to know the ones that they have in common. The following are just a few of the signs and symptoms that both types of schizoaffective disorder share:
- Having hallucinations, both audibly and visually
- Experiencing delusions
- Exhibiting disorganized behavior and disorganized speech
- Displaying catatonic behavior
- Engaging in risky behaviors, including alcohol and/or substance abuse
- Moving slowly and having a lack of energy and motivation
- Having poor sleep patterns, such as not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Losing interest in appearance and exhibiting poor hygiene
- Not wanting to engage in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed
Now, individuals with the bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder will have some of these symptoms along with some of the mood disorder symptoms of mania.
Types of Schizoaffective Disorder: Bipolar Type
The bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder is primarily distinguished by its periods of mania. Just like bipolar I disorder (which has more intense periods of mania than depressive episodes), people with this type of schizoaffective disorder will experience lengthened periods of mania alongside other schizophrenia symptoms.
Now, that is not to say that there are not also symptoms of depression in the bipolar type, rather they just tend to be significantly less than the depressive type of schizoaffective disorder. However, the depressive type of schizoaffective disorder does not cross over into any symptoms of mania.
Types of Schizoaffective Disorder: Depressive Type
Schizoaffective disorder depressive type is primarily defined by its extended periods of depression. This depression can be long-lasting and has the potential to remain until some type of professional intervention is attempted.
Also, this type of schizoaffective disorder is often misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder (MDD) because the symptoms of depression tend to be very dominant. Now, just like schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, the depressive type must be treated as soon as possible because the symptoms can be severe and cause serious harm.
Effective Ways of Treating Both Types of Schizoaffective Disorder
While both types of schizoaffective disorder differ, they are generally treated in very similar fashions. Both disorders are usually approached in treatment using both pharmacological and therapeutic methods.
Usually both these types of schizoaffective disorder are treated by way of three different medications. These are antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants. Of course, the specifics of how these medications are administered should always be individualized and left to a mental health professional.
In addition to medication, both of these types of schizoaffective disorder are often treated with psychotherapies such as individual or “talk” therapy, group therapy, and, in some instances, family therapy, depending on the dynamics of the situation. The good news is that utilizing a combination of medication and therapy is highly effective in treating both bipolar and depressive types of schizoaffective disorder.
Healing at the Core Level of The Phoenix Recovery Center
There is no surface-level recovery here at The Phoenix Recovery Center. Our aim is always to get to the underlying issues of disordered behaviors so our clients can fully heal at the core level necessary for long-term recovery.
If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with schizoaffective disorder or any other issues of mental health, we can help get you on the right track to recovery. For more information on bipolar and/or depressive schizoaffective disorder, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.