Schizoaffective disorder is a combination disorder that includes schizophrenia and mood disorders, and for this reason, it is difficult to diagnose patients that fall into the spectrum.
While occurrences of schizoaffective disorder are rare, having this condition may increase the risk of substance-abuse, addiction, and related disorders. Self-medication is a common practice which tends to overuse and dependence on substances.
Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT
Review Date: 3/1/2023
The bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder includes symptoms such as depression, manic episodes, extreme mood swings, delusions and paranoia.
The depressive type of schizoaffective disorder includes symptoms such as deep sadness, low energy levels, and negative moods.
Only 0.3% of the population are diagnosed as having schizoaffective disorder, and there is not enough research to determine the causes of this disorder.
Some possible causes include:
Schizoaffective disorder tends to run in families, and genes are thought to be responsible for this condition. Individuals who are already affected by schizoaffective disorder also tend to be at risk for other mental illnesses.
Neuroimages of brains show that malformations or abnormal occurrences in the brain such as small brain volume may cause mental health issues such as schizoaffective disorder.
Babies in the womb who have been exposed to addictive substances such as nicotine, alcohol and other drugs have been shown to develop mental health challenges later in life. Babies with issues during delivery, such as restricted oxygen supply to the brain, may also be at risk.
Certain mind-altering drugs such as LSD, PCP and magic mushrooms have powerful effects that may temporarily cause psychotic and other disorders. Long-term use or abuse create long-lasting effects, sometimes lasting for several years.
Diagnosis can be challenging because of the presence of a combination of symptoms. Dual diagnosis and treatment provide comprehensive treatment plans that include medical treatments, addiction treatments, evidence-based therapies and mindfulness based practices. Antipsychotics and antidepressants are commonly prescribed for schizoaffective disorder symptoms, and behavioral therapies such as CBT, DBT and EMDR are effective in helping to change negative patterns of thinking and behaviors.
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