Schizoaffective disorder is a sub-type of schizophrenia, referred to as a borderline personality disorder. It is sometimes seen in cases of bipolar disorder, but only 1 in 100 people are affected by it. The diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is comparable to both schizophrenia and severe mood (affective) indications. With this disorder there are “oddities, and eccentricities of perception, thinking, speech and behavior.”* This can be detected when the patient advances into delusional beliefs or hallucinations.** The afflicted not only experience the mood disorders of hypomania, depression, and/or mania with mixed episodes, but they also must endure hallucinations, delusional beliefs, and other experiences relating to schizophrenia. This results in the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder in manic depressive patients.
“Manic patients may hear the singing of angels or the voice of God — again hallucinations that can be understood as coming out of the expansive, grandiose mood of mania.”** It isn’t just angels that one with manic depression and schizoaffective disorder hears while in a mixed state of severe mania, and I know this from firsthand experience. I have needed to be hospitalized before for major manic episodes and schizoaffective disorder. The voices I heard were mainly menacing, snide, and biting. They were aggressive against me, and only me. They caused me to be unable to sleep at all for a total of seven days, and this created one of the strongest manic states I have ever endured. My behaviors were erratic and worrisome to those who love me, so I allowed myself to be treated in a hospital on the west coast. This wasn’t my first time in a psychiatric unit, and I was not fearful so much as to be simply edgy and uncomfortable around strangers. Not too many of us with manic depression are fearful when we are manic — the grandiosity doesn’t allow for it. Torrey Fuller, M.D., notes that schizoaffective disorder and manic depressive individuals are very contentious.* Torrey explains that a genetic predisposition is clearly established while others conclude it is an inherited disease. It ties into manic depression because you can have symptoms of both diseases at once, making it difficult for your doctor to diagnose and treat.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,
Depressive symptoms associated with schizoaffective disorder can include – but are not limited to – hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, worthlessness, disrupted appetite, disturbed sleep, inability to concentrate, and depressed mood (with or without suicidal thoughts. Manic (bipolar) symptoms associated with schizoaffective disorder can include increased energy, decreased sleep (or decreased need for sleep), distractibility, fast (“pressured”) speech, and increased impulsive behaviors.
Those with a crucial degree of depression or mania can suffer an array of indicators of psychosis. It is advantageous to see a specialist of psychiatry to be certain of the most accurate diagnosis.
There are many treatments used for managing bipolar disorder. There are mood-stabilizing drugs, antidepressant medications, antipsychotic medications, hormones and dietary supplements, Modern ECT, electroconvulsive therapy treatments, ECT for bipolar disorder, counseling, and psychotherapy, just to name a few. You can talk to your doctor to understand the options that are best for you or your loved one.
In regards to treatment for schizoaffective disorder, it appears that the use of schizophrenia treatments is also used in the management of schizoaffective disorder. Torrey, M.D., states, “For patients and families it is often confusing because they think that schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are different diagnosis. In fact, they are two aspects of a diagnostic spectrum. At a practical level the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder implies a somewhat better prognosis than classical schizophrenia…”* She explains that bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder will not always fall distinctively into two categories, but rather many cases have symptoms of both diseases.* Realizing that the two mental diseases can so easily go hand in hand, it is understandable that treatment for both can generally be managed in unison, whether through psychotherapy, certain psychotropic medications for both diseases, or more of the elements already listed above. For more information on how to manage bipolar disorder, talk to your physician and visit Web MD’s page: Common Drugs and Medications to Treat Bipolar Disorder.
*Torrey, E. Fuller. Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers, and Providers. 4th ed. New York: Quill, 2001. Print.
**Mondimore, Francis, M.D., Bipolar Disorder: A Guide For Patients and Families. 2nd ed. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2006. 205-216. Print.