How Do Schizoaffective Disorder and Bipolar Disorder Differ?
While both conditions can cause psychotic symptoms, those with schizoaffective disorder are much more likely to have psychotic features than those with bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes are also more likely to experience feelings of paranoia and have feelings of superiority. In contrast, those with schizoaffective disorder tend to experience symptoms of catatonia and have difficulty expressing their emotions. One of the main differences between the two conditions is that with bipolar disorder, many of these symptoms only appear during a mood episode, while for those with schizoaffective disorder, the symptoms remain present even after moods improve.
What Causes a Mental Health Disorder?
Research has shown there’s no one cause for mental health disorders. Mental illness can be caused by a variety of events and factors, including:
- Childhood trauma
- Ongoing chronic illness
- Substance abuse
- Solitude and isolation
- Genetic makeup
- Problems during fetal development
Genetic factors can contribute to mental disorders, and studies have shown some conditions tend to run in families including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. There currently aren’t any genetic tests to determine if an individual will develop a mental illness. Instead, psychologists tend to look at other family members to understand the genetic risk. It should be noted, however, that individuals with some mental illnesses show variances in chromosomes 3 and 10, though it’s unknown how these chromosomes influence mental disorders.
Certain environmental conditions can affect how a person thinks and feels and their overall health and well-being. For example, poor nutrition affects the brain’s ability to function as it should and prevents the body from operating at its peak performance. An individual with poor nutrition may not be able to cope with stress as well as someone in top physical condition. Both physical and social environmental factors may contribute to an individual’s mental health. These include:
- Lack of sleep
- Drug and alcohol use
- Poor work conditions
- Family environment
- Financial situation
According to the American Psychological Association, all mental processes are brain processes. Therefore, all disorders of mental functioning are biological diseases. Factors such as prenatal development, maternal stress and birth complications have all been linked to mental illness — all biological factors. Biochemical factors such as low dopamine and serotonin levels can lead to mood symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
What Type of Treatment Is Most Common for Schizoaffective Disorder and Bipolar Disorder?
There’s no cure for schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder. However, effective treatment options are available that make the conditions manageable. A proper diagnosis is the first step to receiving treatment. After the diagnosis, treatment typically involves combining individual treatment and medication.
Psychotherapy (talk therapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, family counseling and extended care play an important role in individual therapy for those with mental disorders.
At Alta Loma, we offer a residential care plan where patients are stabilized upon arrival. We provide a supportive living environment and teach residents life skills and healthy habits to help them control their condition. Methods used include cognitive behavioral therapy, individual or group sessions with a therapist and family counseling to help loved ones learn about the mood disorder and how to provide support.
Long-Term Mental Health Treatment
Long-term mental health treatment for schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder typically involves medications, which may include one or more antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers or antianxiety medications.