Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed in about .3 percent of the population. Teen schizoaffective disorder is very hard to accurately diagnose, as it is difficult to distinguish from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders. Many teens with schizoaffective disorder are often initially misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizophreniform disorder (a type of schizophrenia that lasts for less than six months).

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental disorder in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms and mood disorder symptoms (typically either major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder). The two types of schizoaffective disorder are the bipolar type, which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression; and the depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes. The most common co-occurring disorders are substance abuse, alcoholism, and anxiety disorders.

 Schizoaffective disorder looks very different in each person who experiences it. Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can include manic symptoms, such as agitation, sleeplessness, and paranoia; depressive symptoms, including sadness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and loss of interest in daily activities; and/or psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, and confused thinking. Thus, symptoms may be similar to those of a psychotic episode or brief psychotic disorder. Therefore, without treatment, schizoaffective disorder may lead to difficulty functioning at work, at school, and in social situations.

Causes and risk factors, similar to brief psychotic disorder causes, may include genetic factors, abnormalities in the areas of the brain that manage mood, and extreme stress or trauma. Effective treatment includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and family-focused therapy, as well as training in stress management and coping skills.

Sources: Mayo Clinic,  Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness