What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Some psychiatric disorders are very difficult to diagnose accurately.  One of the most confusing conditions is schizoaffective disorder.  This relatively rare disorder is an illness in which there are both severe mood swings and some of the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.  Most of the time, mania or depression mix with psychotic symptoms, but there must be at least one two-week period in which there are only psychotic symptoms without any symptoms of mania or depression.


Because schizoaffective disorder is so complicated, misdiagnosis is common.  Many people with schizoaffective disorder are originally diagnosed with manic depression.  The cause of schizoaffective disorder is unknown.  This is a lifelong disorder for most people.  The exact course of the illness varies from person to person, but most people have a flare-up of symptoms, particularly in times of stress.  These periods of increased symptoms are called relapses.  They may be severe enough to limit functioning and may make hospitalization necessary.  After a relapse, there is usually a gradual return to the prior level of functioning.  Between relapses, most people have mild, if any, symptoms.


Treatment usually consists of therapy, medication and skills training.  The medication used to treat schizoaffective disorder include anti-psychotic medication, anti-depressants, and or mood stabilizers.  Often several medicines are combined to get the best results.


If you would like more information about Schizoaffective Disorder, please contact the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill at 800-950-6264 or visit them online at www.nami.org.


Phone code: 1703

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