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Many people mistake schizoaffective disorder for schizophrenia. While this is understandable, as they do sound similar, these are not interchangeable terms. It is important to correctly categorize schizoaffective disorder separately from schizophrenia, as each condition has its own set of warning signs and symptoms. In addition, there are different approaches to treating schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia. Ultimately, the more we know about schizoaffective disorder, the more able we will be to help someone who may be struggling with it.

What Exactly Is Schizoaffective Disorder?

One reason why schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are often misunderstood as the same condition is that both conditions share symptoms of delusions and hallucinations. However, what many people may not realize is that schizoaffective disorder also encompasses symptoms of a mood disorder, such as a depressive disorder or bipolar disorder I and II.

Additionally, the combination of disorder symptoms that often occur as a result of schizoaffective disorder can make the condition hard to diagnose. Often, it gets diagnosed as solely schizophrenia or solely a mood disorder rather than schizoaffective disorder which, as we now know, is a combination of both.

However, with a little more knowledge about the disorder, there are certainly ways to distinguish schizoaffective disorder from others. Being able to do so can help individuals get the treatment that they need to overcome symptoms of schizoaffective disorder sooner rather than later. 

What to Know About Schizoaffective Disorder: Understanding the Two Types of Schizoaffective Disorder

The first thing to know is that schizoaffective disorder has two different types: Schizoaffective, bipolar type and schizoaffective, depressive type. Now, simply based on the name, we can glean that the variables in each type occur on the mood spectrum of the disorder rather than on the schizophrenia side. 

What to Know About Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Type

The bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder still has all of the universal symptoms of schizophrenia, but it also has the primary symptoms of bipolar disorder. These symptoms are periods of intense mania, followed by periods of extreme depression.

Also, this type of schizoaffective disorder can be extremely detrimental because of the mix of symptoms it produces. Examples such as racing thoughts and an increase in risk-taking behaviors with symptoms like psychosis and delusional thinking can put an individual in very dangerous situations. It can also create a lot of internal confusion as well, which can lead to some serious side effects.

What to Know About Schizoaffective Disorder, Depressive Type

The next type of schizoaffective disorder is the depressive type. This type has all of the symptoms of schizophrenia, but instead of mania and depression, the individual instead exhibits symptoms of depression.

Now, some people may be under the impression that this is a less severe form of schizoaffective disorder, but this impression is false. Oftentimes, depressive symptoms tend to be more intense in this type of disorder, and that level of depression can be very difficult to get out of without professional assistance.

What Does Schizoaffective Disorder Look Like: Some of the Warning Signs and Symptoms

Now, when it comes to the warning signs of schizoaffective disorder, both signs of a mood disorder and signs of schizophrenia must be present. Though, to note, if any of these signs show up independently, it is still recommended that professional help be sought. Self diagnosis can be harmful and often incorrect. If there are any signs of a potential mental illness, be sure to seek professional care.

The following are just a few of the warning signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder:

  • Experiencing delusions such as irrational false or fixed beliefs
  • Showing signs of depression, such as emptiness and/or hopelessness
  • Appearing incoherent or displaying unusual and/or bizarre behaviors
  • Showing periods of mania, increased energy, and a lack of the need for sleep
  • Having trouble concentrating, especially at school or work
  • Appearing uncharacteristically disheveled

The Potential for Schizoaffective Disorder and Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder

Many people who struggle with schizoaffective disorder also struggle with substance use disorder (SUD). The primary reason for this is that many people, unaware of what they are struggling with, turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism for their symptoms.

However, alcohol and substances often only exacerbate the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. SUD can also mask and/or overlap some of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, which makes it harder to diagnose, and, ultimately, harder to treat.

Some Effective Treatment Options for Schizoaffective Disorder

Now, there are two primary ways that schizoaffective disorder is treated. One is with therapy and/or psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT).

The other primary treatment option involves medication-assisted treatment. Currently, the primary medications used to treat this condition include antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, and SSRIs.

However, generally, the best treatment for schizoaffective disorder is a combination of both therapy and medication. This is because the medication can help mitigate the symptoms as the therapy works to get to the underlying issues of the disorder.

The Importance of Comprehensive Care at the Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we believe in treating all issues of mental health and addiction on an individualized basis, and in a comprehensive manner. We don’t believe in broad-stroke recovery here.

Also, we don’t see clients as their disorders here at The Phoenix Recovery Center. Rather, we see them as clients who will soon be on their way to a new and improved life in long-term recovery.

If you feel like you or someone you love may be struggling with schizoaffective disorder, we can help with both diagnosis and treatment. For more information, call The Phoenix Recovery Center at (801) 438-3185.

The Phoenix Recovery Center
489 W. South Jordan Pkwy
Suite 400
South Jordan, UT