Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia

Schizoaffective disorder is similar to schizophrenia and both conditions share similar symptoms, yet they are much more different with regards to their causes. Both disorders share the symptoms of psychosis or hallucinations, abnormal thinking, and mood issues. Schizoaffective disorder is a very difficult diagnosis and very similar to the condition of bipolar disorder with psychotic features. In fact both are treated the with the same medications, so the differences might be in name only or taxonomy. Sometimes schizoaffective disorder might resemble schizophrenia, and in other cases schizoaffective disorder might resemble bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Psychotic episodes, and mood swings would be the primary symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. Other symptoms of this disorder include lost of appetite and body weight, agitation, suicidal ideations. Individuals with schizophrenia tend to have a flat affect or are almost without emotion.

The Differences Between Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is typically a disorder characterized by psychosis, and another salient symptom whereby the individual believes that people are esoterically communicating to them by certain gestures. These symptoms are called ideas of reference and are usually a symptom associated only with schizophrenia. Often the individual is withdrawn, emotionally flat, and therefore doesn't experience the depression or mood swings as one would with schizoaffective disorder; with the exception of the paranoia. Schizoaffective disorder would include the symptoms of schizophrenia with conspicuous mood swings between depression or mania, and often during a time period apart from the psychosis. The symptoms of this disorder can manifest in varying degrees and length of time which make it a difficult diagnosis between bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

How is Schizoaffective Disorder Treated

Bipolar disorder with psychotic features, schizoaffective disorder, and schizophrenia are all difficult to diagnose and treat. Schizoaffective disorder can be mistaken for bipolar disorder with psychotic features or major depression with psychotic features. Again these differences might be moot and prognoses are nearly identical. Schizoaffective disorder is probably the most difficult illness to diagnose and the criteria to assess the symptoms are not distinct. Often the diagnosis is reached by default in that if someone cannot be conclusively diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, they are usually considered to have schizoaffective disorder. The four diagnostic criteria are so close to schizophrenia or on the other end bipolar disorder; many psychiatrists tend to diagnose one or the other and avoid the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder all together.

Both illnesses involve an imbalance in the neurotransmitters with the psychosis being caused by a plethora of dopamine in the system. The causes of the excess dopamine are the subject of research and most likely vary with each situation.These illnesses are often grounded in genetics and sometime triggered by environmental issues. Some studies have claimed to be able to prevent schizophrenia from manifesting, by having the individual avoid the environmental stresses that bring about this disease. This seems to beg the question in that since there are not yet any bio-markers, one would not know that they were suffering from the illness until it has manifested in which case, prevention is a not possible. With schizoaffective disorder, the sooner the diagnosis, the better the prognosis. The treatment for this disorder would involve the anti-psychotic medications, psychotherapy, and a mood stabilizer. The prognosis for schizoaffective disorder is a bit better than schizophrenia, this will of course vary on the individual. 
this article regarding schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia is informational and not to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness