Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of schizophrenia symptoms and mood (affective) disorder symptoms. Schizoaffective disorder isn’t well understood and is broadly defined. Because the symptoms and components of different psychiatric conditions may be present, there isn’t a univocal diagnostic route and experts disagree over classification of the disorder.
Although there is no cure for schizoaffective disorder, treatment options help patients live a comfortable life. Without proper treatment, patients may live in isolation or rely heavily on friends and family.
Signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder
As mentioned, schizoaffective disorder involves components of schizophrenia and other mood disorders, so patients may experience a whole range of psychiatric symptoms, from depression to hallucinations. Symptoms include:
- Disorganized or confused thinking
- Unusual thoughts and perceptions
- Memory problems
- Paranoid ideas and thoughts
- Periods of depression
- Manic mood
- Panic attacks
- Poor temper control
- Incoherent speech
- Irrelevant speech
- Attention problems
- Catatonic behavior (muscular tightness)
- Lack of concern for personal hygiene
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Common mood disorders found in schizoaffective disorder are bipolar disorder and depression, so symptoms related to these two conditions are quite prevalent in schizoaffective disorder.
What causes schizoaffective disorder
The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is unclear, but the condition is thought to result from a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Neurotransmitters help pass electrical signals and also help control the mood.
Similar to schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder is thought to stem from variations affecting brain development in the childhood. Genetics, family history, advanced paternal age of conception, environmental factors, and drug exposure are also believed to play a role in the onset of schizoaffective disorder.
Women tend to suffer from schizoaffective disorder more than men, but men tend to experience symptoms earlier than women.