Schizoaffective disorder is a mental disorder in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania. The two types of schizoaffective disorder, both of which include some symptoms of schizophrenia, are:
- Bipolar type, which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression
- Depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes
Schizoaffective disorder may run a unique course in each affected person, so it's not as well-understood or well-defined as other mental health conditions.
Untreated schizoaffective disorder may lead to problems functioning at work, at school and in social situations, causing loneliness and trouble holding down a job or attending school. People with schizoaffective disorder may need assistance and support with daily functioning. Treatment can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Schizoaffective disorder symptoms may vary from person to person. People with the condition experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder, either bipolar type (episodes of mania and sometimes depression) or depressive type (episodes of depression).
The course of schizoaffective disorder usually features cycles of severe symptoms followed by periods of improvement with less severe symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder depend on the type, bipolar or depressive type, and may include, among others:
- Delusions, having false, fixed beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary
- Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren't there
- Symptoms of depression, such as feeling empty, sad or worthless
- Periods of manic mood or a sudden increase in energy with behaviour that's out of character
- Impaired communication, such as only partially answering questions or giving answers that are completely unrelated
- Impaired occupational, academic and social functioning
- Problems with managing personal care, including cleanliness and physical appearance
People with Schizoaffective Disorder may be treated as outpatients or they may be hospitalized. Treatment usually consists of medication and psychosocial interventions. Antipsychotic medications and mood stabilizers are the main class of drugs used to treat schizoaffective disorder. They relieve symptoms of psychosis and help with mood, and may help to prevent relapse. Other medications may be prescribed to help manage the side-effects of antipsychotics or to treat particular symptoms, such as depression, anxiety or sleep difficulties.
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