According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), schizoaffective disorder is often misdiagnosed as either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and that’s because people with schizoaffective disorder experience symptoms similar to both.

People suffering from schizoaffective disorder experience symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking or speech, catatonic behavior, diminished emotional expression, and either depressive or manic behavior. Individuals with bipolar-type schizoaffective experience manic and depressive episodes in line with the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

How Can You Be Diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with this disorder, a person must present for at least two of the symptoms listed above for a significant portion of the month, and either delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech must be present. Hallucinations must be present for two or more weeks while not in a depressive or manic episode. Symptoms of a manic or depressive episode must be present most of the time, and the symptoms cannot be a result of substance use.

Treatment for Bipolar-Type Schizoaffective Disorder

Bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder separately are complex diagnoses to endure and treat. Together, it’s even more perplexing of a disorder to psychiatrists. This does not mean that treatment is impossible, however. Antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs along with therapy can be effective in treating the disorder.

An article evaluating studies on treatment effectiveness concluded that atypical antipsychotic medication is most effective for the treatment of the two disorders, and adjunctive antidepressants may be a helpful addition for individuals with major depression.

It should be said that schizoaffective disorder is being debated as a necessary or effective diagnosis and has been considered for removal from the DSM for several editions. Misdiagnosis is so common that it’s challenging to evaluate a patient for these symptoms, especially because those with schizophrenia often suffer from depression.

If you have received a bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder diagnosis, this doesn’t mean your diagnosis is wrong or illegitimate or that treatment is hopeless. Effective pharmacotherapy treatments are available for treatment and further study will only improve our understanding of these symptoms.

Any difficult diagnosis can make you feel hopeless, but at Alta Loma, we want you to know that no case is hopeless, especially not yours. Effective treatments for your disorder and symptoms are being given every day, and new treatments are in the works to help create effective treatments. Tried and true therapy modalities, qualified therapists and psychiatrists, and a community that will support you no matter what can put you on the path to a better quality of life and better management of your symptoms. Call Alta Loma at (866) 457-3843 to discuss your treatment options today.