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The ancient Roman philosopher and historian, Tacitus, once wrote, “Truth is confirmed by inspection and delay; falsehood by haste and uncertainty.” When it comes to the signs of schizoaffective disorder, there is still a lot of uncertainty within the mental health industry. Yet, it isn’t the uncertainty that should concern those struggling with the disorder and their loved ones who are trying to help them. The primary concern is detecting the symptoms and getting the proper care.

Understanding the Broad Spectrum of Schizophrenia

Many people look at schizophrenia as a sole disorder. However, it is actually a base disorder that has many other subtypes. Some examples of subtypes include paranoid schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, undifferentiated schizophrenia, and residual schizophrenia. Additionally, there are parallel disorders that share similar symptoms but at different levels of severity with unique characteristics of their own. These parallel disorders include brief psychotic disorder, delusional disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.

Of all of the parallel disorders, schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are the most commonly confused. According to the article The Schizoaffective Disorder Diagnosis: A Conundrum in the Clinical Setting, “In the Research Diagnostic Criteria, schizoaffective disorder was distinguished from other psychotic and mood disorders and defined by the co-occurrence of a major mood episode (major depression or mania) and psychotic symptoms, “suggestive of schizophrenia”, which persist for at least 1 week in the absence of major mood symptomatology.” This is a broad understanding of the differences between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, but there are other complexities.

What Exactly Is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health disorder that shares some symptoms with schizophrenia, (though they tend to be less severe) and also have symptoms of mood disorders. Additionally, there are two specific types of schizoaffective disorder, the bipolar type and the depressive type.

The bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder is best characterized by its episodes of prolonged mania followed by periods of deep depression. Now, the depressive type of schizoaffective disorder, on the other hand, does not have any symptoms of mania, and the depressive episodes tend to be more severe.

However, while these two types have unique mood disorder characteristics, many warning signs of schizoaffective disorder remain the same. These are the signs and symptoms that relate most to schizophrenia. 

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

The following are just a few of the schizophrenia-related signs of schizoaffective disorder. These apply to both the bipolar and depressive types of the disorder:

  • Experiencing hallucinations, which can be audible, visual, or tactile
  • Having delusional thinking, which includes false beliefs and known untruths
  • Exhibiting disorganized speech, and experiencing disorganized thinking
  • A loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Losing interest in appearance and personal hygiene
  • Using alcohol or other substances as a coping mechanism
  • Experiencing catatonia; unexpectedly freezing up
  • Having difficulty communicating and conveying certain ideas

In addition to those signs and symptoms, listed below are the specific signs of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type:

  • Experiencing lengthened periods of mania
  • Having difficulty sleeping, or not feeling the need to sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Having racing thoughts and racing speech patterns
  • Becoming highly irritable, and having intense mood swings
  • Feeling a surge of creativity and excitement, but not being able to utilize it due to anxiety

Now, the following are a few of the signs of schizoaffective disorder, depressive type:

  • Experiencing unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Feeling anxious and/or depressed for extended periods of time
  • Having trouble with sleep patterns, including sleeping too much, or not being able to sleep; insomnia
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and a lack of self-esteem
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of self-harm, and/or having suicidal ideations

How Is Schizoaffective Disorder Treated?

If any or many of the aforementioned signs of schizoaffective disorder are present, it is recommended that professional help be sought as soon as possible. The good news is that there are many effective ways to treat schizoaffective disorder.

Schizoaffective disorder is primarily treated in two ways. The first way is via medication. Medications such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants can help manage the symptoms of the disorder so an individual can function in their day-to-day lives.

The second way is via therapy; usually psychotherapy. Psychotherapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), can help get to some of the underlying issues of schizoaffective disorder and begin to help individuals manage the negative behaviors associated with the disorder

Getting the Right Help, the Right Away, at The Phoenix Recovery Center

Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we believe that starting the recovery journey off on the right foot is crucial. That is why we create a long-term recovery plan as soon as a client starts to work with us.

Our primary purpose here at The Phoenix Recovery Center is to help our clients recover no matter what. With schizoaffective disorder, we understand that there can be some uncertainty, but we want our clients to know that we are certain of one thing; our hand will always be there to help when they need it.

If you feel like you or a loved one may be struggling with schizoaffective disorder or other issues of mental health or addiction, we can help. For more information about schizoaffective disorder, its warning signs, and the best treatments available, please reach out to The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.

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