Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health disorder that combines symptoms of psychosis with symptoms of mood disorders. Depending on what type of mood symptoms are present; it is diagnosed as either bipolar type or depressive type.
The prevalence of the schizoaffective disorder in the population is believed to be less than 1 percent, which is less than for schizophrenia or mood disorders. Research suggests that women are slightly more prone while men tend to develop the disorder at a younger age. It is generally first diagnosed between ages 16 and 30 and is rare in children.
Symptoms of the schizoaffective disorder tend to be severe and vary for each individual. They can be broadly categorized into those that fall under depressive symptoms, manic symptoms, and schizophrenia symptoms. Those with bipolar type will experience cycling of depressive and manic symptoms, while those with the depressive type will only experience the depressive symptoms
Psychological: Sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, restlessness, lack of energy, loss of interest in usual activities, trouble concentrating, guilt, self-blame, thoughts of death or suicide
Physical: Poor appetite, weight loss or gain, sleeping too much or too little,
Psychological: Risky or self-destructive behavior (e.g., spending sprees, reckless driving, risky sexual practices), euphoria, irritable mood, racing thoughts, grandiose, easily distracted
Physical: Increased energy and/or more active than usual (e.g., at work, socially, sexually), talking more or faster than unusual, reduced need for sleep
Psychological: Paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, impaired communication, lacking emotion in facial expressions and speech (negative symptoms), low motivation (avolition)
Physical: slow movements or no movement (catatonia), poor personal hygiene
While the psychotic symptoms listed above describe how schizoaffective disorder appears to an outsider, it is also helpful to learn what these symptoms feel like to a person with the disorder.
If you are experiencing disorganized thinking, you may feel like your thoughts are fuzzy or everything feels disconnected. When you speak, you may not be capable to remember what you were talking about, so it’s hard for people to follow what you say. You may also feel like your thoughts are not within your control.
We don’t know precisely what Reason schizoaffective disorder. However, it is proposed that it can result from a combination of risk factors that affect brain development prenatally and throughout childhood and adolescence. This includes:
- Psychoactive or psychotropic drug use (e.g., LSD)
- Viral infections including while in the womb
- Birth defects
- Brain chemistry and structure
- Life stressors (death in the family, loss of a job, end of the marriage)