Patients who show concurrent symptoms of both mood disorders (bipolar or depressive types) and psychotic disorder are given the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Onset is usually during young adulthood. The chronic symptoms are typically fewer and less severe than among those patients with schizophrenia.
Most mental health experts believe that schizoaffective disorder is a variation of schizophrenia, but the exact cause remains unclear. Current theory suggests that schizoaffective disorder is triggered by a range of factors working in combination including:
Signs and symptoms
The disorder usually comes on gradually. One of the most telling signs is a tendency for the victim's emotional reactions to be out of synch with the situation---or lacking entirely. Other symptoms include:
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) classification, a schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed if the patient's symptoms meet the following criteria:
The schizoaffective disorder may be a specific type:
As is indicated by the symptoms, treatment must focus on both psychotic and mood disorders. Antipsychotics are used to control the symptoms of schizophrenia. Antidepressant and antimanic medications are used for the mood disorder. Psychotherapy can be useful to help the patient understand the nature of the illness and the necessity of ongoing treatment. Support groups increase socialization and provide safe opportunities to build interpersonal skills. The family should be encouraged to attend a support group to understand the illness better and to learn ways they can be supportive of the patient.
Complications are similar to those for schizophrenia and major mood disorders. These include:
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