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Schizoaffective disorder is a mental condition that causes both a loss of contact with reality (psychosis
) and mood problems. Schizoaffective disorder most commonly affects cognition and emotion. Auditory hallucinations, paranoia, bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking with significant social and occupational dysfunction are typical. Symptoms usually begin in early adulthood, which makes diagnosis prior to age 13 rare.
The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are different in each person.
Often, people with schizoaffective disorder have problems with mood, daily function, or abnormal thoughts. Psychosis and mood changes may occur at the same time, or off and on by themselves.
The psychotic symptoms can last for at least 2 weeks without any noticeable mood problems. The course of the disorder involves cycles of severe symptoms followed by improvement.
The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include:
- Changes in appetite and energy
- Believing that someone on TV or the radio is speaking directly to you or that secret messages are hidden in common objects (delusions of reference)
- Disorganized speech that is not logical
- False beliefs (delusions)
- Feeling that everyone or one person or agency is out to get you (paranoia)
- Irritability and poor temper control
- Lack of concern with hygiene, grooming
- Problems sleeping
- Seeing or hearing things (hallucinations -- especially "hearing voices")
- Trouble concentrating
- Very good or bad mood
Treatment can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the symptoms. Generally, the Dr. will prescribe medications to stabilize mood and to treat the psychosis. Usually the combination of antipsychotic and mood-stabilizing medication controls both depressive and manic symptoms, but some people may also need antidepressants.
The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is unknown. Changes in genes and chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) may play a role. Genetics, early environment, neurobiology, psychological and social processes are important contributory factors. Some recreational and prescription drugs may cause or worsen symptoms. Current research is focused on the role of neurobiology, but no single organic cause has been found.
Schizoaffective disorder is believed to be less common than schizophrenia
and mood disorders. Women may have the condition more often than men.
Although mood disorders are somewhat common in children, schizophrenia is not. Therefore schizoaffective disorder tends to be rare in children.
I hope this information is more along the lines of what you were looking for. Best wishes, and please let me know if I can answer any further questions. Tamara