Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia – 4: Schizoaffective Disorder

It is not easy to diagnose mental health problems. A person may exhibit symptoms common to two or more kinds of mental disorders or may experience signs of multiple psychiatric illnesses simultaneously. Signs of one mental illness can mimic another, but there are subtle hints that doctors take note of while trying to detect the exact nature of emotional health problems.

Disorders like schizophrenia are associated with abnormalities in specific parts of the brain leading to illusions and delusionary behavior apart from showing manifestations of cognitive impairment. There are certain mental disorders that may be mistaken for schizophrenia because of similarity in symptoms of the two. Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may be similar to that of schizophrenia.

Coming together of the worst of schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder

Patients suffering from the lesser known illness like schizoaffective disorder are actually understood to be afflicted with schizophrenia. While schizophrenia disallows a person to think properly or perceive reality in the way it is, depression pushes the affected into abyss of extreme sadness, coupled with feelings of hopelessness and lack of self-esteem.

Bipolar disorder induces feelings ranging from extreme high to extreme low. People showing symptoms of schizoaffective disorder need to take treatment that would help manage traits of psychotic behavior, extreme high or low mood disorders and feelings of worthlessness.

In patients detected with the disorder, mood disturbances may occur simultaneously or on an interchangeable basis. Some common signs of the disorder are:

  • false fixed beliefs characteristic of delusionary behavior
  • hearing voices which others do not, also referred to as auditory hallucinations common to those suffering from schizophrenia
  • frequent episodes of mood disorders as in major depressive disorder
  • potential phases of manic expressions or an unanticipated elevation in energy levels and abnormal behavioral manifestations
  • impeded outcomes in occupational set ups
  • disabled behavior pertaining to social functioning
  • thoughts and ideas marked by extreme anxiousness and insecurity
  • difficulties faced in maintaining neatness and regarding physical appearance

People afflicted with this disorder also tend to harbor suicidal thoughts or attempt to take their own lives.

What causes some people to suffer from schizoaffective disorder

No single or particular cause has been attributed to the development of this disorder. However, multiple reasons are being looked at for the progression of the same in many people.

  • Genetics: Hereditary traits are can be a potential factor for this disorder to run among multiple generations. But this does not necessarily imply that it tends to run in the families. Having someone in the family afflicted with the disorder only raises the likelihood of suffering from the disorder.
  • Structure of brain chemistry: Though not much information is available about how the nature of brain structure affects the onset and evolution of the disorder, scientists believe that sudden transformations in brain chemistry can be responsible for the same.
  • Stress: Taxing times, such as demise of a family member or a friend or loss of job, can trigger the problem.
  • Drug abuse: Psychiatric illnesses are ascribed to incessant tendencies to abuse addictive substances. Though further research is needed to establish a relationship between them, taking psychoactive drugs like LSD has been associated with the gradual advancement of the disorder.

Scope of recovery

As per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 0.3 percent American population is affected by this disorder. If you or your loved one is battling some form of mental disorder, get connected to the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline to learn about the best mental health programs in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our mental health experts for information on mental health treatment rehabs in your vicinity.

Read the other articles of the series “Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia”:

  1. Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia – 1: Schizotypal Personality Disorder
  2. Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia – 2: Schizoid Personality Disorder
  3. Mental disorders similar to schizophrenia – 3: Delusional Disorder