What is Schizoaffective Disorder? -Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic and serious mental health problem in which a person suffers from a set of schizophrenia symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations or paranoid thoughts and symptoms of mood disorder, such as mood swings, depression or mania.
There are two types of schizoaffective disorder; bipolar type and depressive type. Each of which includes some symptoms of schizophrenia.
Schizoaffective disorder
What is schizoaffective disorder? - Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder.

What is Schizoaffective Disorder and What is the Main Difference between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder?

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person suffers from a set of symptoms of schizophrenia, such as delusions, hallucinations, paranoid thoughts or disorganized speech, and symptoms of mood disorder, such as mood swings, elevated mood, disorganized behavior, depression or mania.

It is worth noting that many people who have schizophrenia are wrongly diagnosed with bipolar disorder or depression earlier.
Psychiatrists are not really aware that schizoaffective disorder is primarily related to schizophrenia or mood disorder, but they see it and treat it as a combination of both conditions.

Males tend to get develop schizoaffective disorder slightly earlier than females, and the average age of onset is 18 in men and 25 in women. The first episode of this disorder usually occurs in puberty, although, rarely, it is also diagnosed in childhood (under 13 years of age). 

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition that is poorly understood or precisely defined and its causes are not well unknown.

Unlike other mental illnesses, schizoaffective disorder is considered incomprehensible cases. Each case is characterized by a mixture of different episodes and behaviors that differ from person to person.

Psychotic episodes and mood disorders may appear simultaneously, or they may appear and disappear mutually.
The course of schizoaffective disorder is usually characterized by cycles of acute symptoms followed by a period of improvement, with fewer acute symptoms.

Mood disorder in the case of the schizoaffective disorder has two types; either in the form of bipolar disorder (Bipolar type) or depression (Depressive type).

Depressive type schizoaffective disorder is characterized by episodes of major depression without mania.
Bipolar type schizoaffective disorder is characterized by major depression and episodes of mania.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may vary from one person to another. These symptoms generally appear as sensory hallucinations, meritorious delusions, or even in the patient's troubled speech and thinking, as well as a separate case of madness or a series of depression in the context of a prominent functional, social or occupational dysfunction.

People with this condition have psychotic and schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, disorganized thoughts and speech as well as symptoms of mood disorders, including depression and mania.

A depressive episode of the schizoaffective disorder requires five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period:
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Depressed mood.
  • The feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
  • The lack of pleasure in activities formerly enjoyed.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Changes in weight or appetite.
  • Changes in sleep.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Slowing of movement.
A manic episode of the schizoaffective disorder requires a period of irritable or elevated mood for at least three of the following symptoms, for at least one week:
  • Increased activity or energy.
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • Increased sense of grandiosity.
  • More goal-directed activity.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Needing less sleep.
  • Being easily distracted
  • Becoming more talkative.
The general signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include:

⇨Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things or people that are not present.
⇨Delusions or illusions; fixed, false, and idiosyncratic beliefs.
⇨Major types of depressive episodes.
⇨The possibility of episodes of manic episodes or a sudden increase in activity and unusual behavior patterns.
⇨Problems with personal hygiene and physical appearance.
⇨Deficiency in the job and social performance.
⇨Paranoid beliefs and ideas.

Causes of Schizoaffective Disorder

The exact cause of the schizoaffective disorder is not known, but there are a number of factors that can contribute to its exacerbation, including the following:
  • Genetic factors.
  • Brain chemistry and structure.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Delayed or changed brain development.
  • Taking mind-altering drugs.
  • Birth defects.
  • Exposure to viruses or toxins while in the womb. 
In the womb, the fetus is exposed to toxins, viral disease, or even complications during childbirth.

Risk Factors
One of the factors that increase the risk of developing the schizoaffective disorder is a close relative (blood relative) who suffers from one of the following:

1. Schizophrenia.
2. Bipolar disorder.
3. Clinical depression.

Complications of Schizoaffective Disorder

People with schizoaffective disorder are at increased risk of:
  • Suicide, suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts.
  • Social isolation.
  • Family and personal conflicts.
  • Difficulty staying on a treatment regimen.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Manic and depressive behaviors.
  • Excess drug abuse and alcohol consumption.
  • Major health problems.
  • Unemployment.
  • Poverty and displacement.
Schizoaffective disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder.

What is the Main Difference between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizophrenia is defined as a chronic psychiatric disorder in which a person interprets reality abnormally. Schizophrenia causes hallucinations, delusions, and problems with concentration, thinking, and feelings of expression, as well as the loss of motivation, which negatively affects the life of the person.

The schizoaffective disorder is a psychological diagnosis of a neurologically disturbing nature that describes a mental health condition including schizophrenia and mood disorder symptoms.

In schizophrenia, symptoms begin in the early 20s including hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thoughts, and speech and simple flat affect.
In schizoaffective disorder, symptoms may also begin in the early 20s such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, flat affect but with along mood disorders (depression or mania).

People with schizophrenia may experience episodes of mood, but the overall duration of mood symptoms is brief compared to the duration of psychotic symptoms.
While people with schizoaffective disorder are more likely to experience severe mood symptoms for more than half of the total duration of the disease.

The psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia tend to be persistent or prominent parts of the condition.
While psychotic symptoms of the schizoaffective disorder tend to come and go and the schizoaffective disorder usually has episodes of psychotic symptoms.

In schizophrenia, the psychotic symptoms are almost always present, but mood symptoms come and go and mood symptoms are not expected to occur without psychotic symptoms.

When people with the schizoaffective disorder experience depression or mania, the psychotic symptoms may or may not be present over a period of time.

Read more about schizophrenia in detail: 

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