Diagnosing Schizoaffective Disorder

by on August 25th, 2014
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Diagnosing schizoaffective disorder can be problematic since it shares symptoms with schizophrenia and mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder. How does the doctor diagnose schizoaffective disorder?

What Is Schizoaffective Disorder? Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of symptoms shared with schizophrenia and either depression or bipolar disorder. It is diagnosed when the symptoms of these are present yet the patient doesn’t fully meet the criteria for being diagnose with schizophrenia or a mood disorder.

The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can include hallucinations, feelings of paranoia, lack of concern over appearance and grooming, depression, periods of euphoria, distorted thoughts or beliefs and feeling a lack of worth among others. Someone with schizoaffective disorder can have any symptom of schizophrenia or a mood disorder.

Those with schizoaffective disorder often set themselves apart from others. This can lead to increased mood disorder problems such as loneliness and feelings of helplessness or lack of worth. Not only do their symptoms keep them from seeking out the attention of others, but a lack of proper diagnosis can prevent the needed treatment for those suffering from schizoaffective disorder.

Diagnosing Schizoaffective Disorder. The doctor must rely on self-reports of symptoms from the patient in order to diagnose schizoaffective disorder. Symptoms from both schizophrenia and either depression or bipolar disorder must also be present. Psychotic symptoms can be present at the same tie as mood symptoms, but for a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, these symptoms must be present for two weeks without the presence of mood disorder symptoms.

Diagnosing is problematic since symptoms are shared with other mental disorders. The patient may have or be diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or a combination of these. It is important for treatment that the doctor make a proper diagnosis.

Although treatment for schizoaffective disorder can be similar to that of bipolar disorder, an atypical antipsychotic medication may be preferable to treat both the psychotic and mood symptoms present with this disorder.

If you think you may have schizoaffective disorder, please see your doctor. Treatment outcomes are very positive with this disorder when it is diagnosed properly.


Mayo Clinic; Schizoaffective Disorder


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