“Schizo” refers to schizophrenia and “affective” refers to how mood disorders can change someone’s emotions. Someone who has schizoaffective disorder can have symptoms of schizophrenia mixed with bipolar disorder and depression simultaneously or separately. By understanding this complicated mental illness, you will know when to seek help for it.

How Do You Diagnose Schizoaffective Disorder?

For at least a month, you have to show two common symptoms of schizophrenia-like delusions, hallucinations, and incoherent speech. People with schizoaffective disorder can also exhibit extremely disorganized behavior, but other symptoms are not necessary for a diagnosis. To know for sure this is schizoaffective disorder, none of these symptoms should be occurring because of outside influences like substance abuse disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is further broken down into the depressive and bipolar type. People with depressive type have feelings of hopelessness, decreased energy levels, and trouble doing everyday tasks. Those with bipolar type have depressive and manic episodes. A diagnosis calls for two weeks of having delusions and/or hallucinations in the absence of a mood episode.

What are the Causes of Schizoaffective Disorder?

One of the causes could be brain structure and chemistry. People with schizoaffective disorder have reduced levels of gray matter which is supposed to make it easier to process information. This disorder also tends to run in families. Researchers are still studying how genes factor into schizoaffective disorder as many of these genes are involved in schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. They regulate many different brain functions like the sleep-wake cycle, brain development, and chemical signaling. Researchers also think that stressful events like a death in the family or psychoactive drugs can play a role in the development of the disorder. 

How Do You Treat Schizoaffective Disorder?

Treatment includes a mix of medications and therapy. The medication helps with issues like brain chemistry while therapy helps deal with life impacts. The goal of therapy is to manage the symptoms that medication cannot fix like learning that the voices in your head do not exist and not to respond to them. Many people with schizoaffective disorder deal with isolation so it is important to practice effective communication. Isolation also occurs because people tend to avoid or bully people with this disorder as they see them talking to someone who is not there. The right help and support can help those with schizoaffective disorder live a good life.

Located in Georgetown, Texas, Alma Loma is a transformative living center to help those struggling in early recovery to transition out of our Psychiatric and Substance Abuse residential center. Alma Loma believes that addiction is born from an untreated mental illness in which our facility is here to help you. Our facility offers residency, medication management education, individualized treatment, life skills education, 12-step support, and more tools to bring patients the confidence to be able to live an independent life. For more information, please call us at 866-457-3843.