The disorder that implies a combination of symptoms of various mental disorders, especially schizophrenia and mood disorder is termed as schizoaffective disorder. The primary symptoms exhibited are hallucinations and delusions, as experienced in schizophrenia, and the mood disorder symptoms of mania and depression.
The disorder is not well-known and under-study. The characteristic symptoms are essentially an overlap of several mental disorders. This leads to misdiagnosis quite often. Another idiosyncrasy arises due to non-uniformity of most symptoms. Therefore, appropriate diagnosis and corresponding treatment is very challenging for doctors and patients alike.
The exhibited symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can be broadly classified under two categories:
Bipolar disorder: This is symptomatic with manic episodes, accompanied with major depression.
Depression type: Characterized by its major depression phases, quite similar to chronic depression
Schizoaffective disorder may be termed as a rare disorder, with only 0.3% of the world population reportedly affected by it. It has no separate effects on men and women. The only difference is observed in the age of conception, with men being affected at an earlier age.
The psychological disorder is very rare as it affects less than 1 percent of the world's population. This makes the prognosis and diagnosis highly challenging. The schizoaffective disorder is still under study, with most of the information obtained through case studies. However, some of the common causes noted are as follows:
The brain deals with some highly function-specific chemicals. These include the hormones serotonin and dopamine. Any kind of abnormalities found or caused in the chemical balance of these hormones is a leading cause. The chemical imbalance may be caused by a variety of factors, including birth defects and drug overdose.
The child prior to birth is extremely vulnerable to any harmful agents, as the immune system is neither fully developed, nor ready to function independently. Exposure to toxic substances or viruses can be detrimental to a great degree. One of the affects the child can suffer in the womb, due to such intoxication is schizoaffective disorder.
Environmental factors might also be responsible for the same. Certain toxins have the ability to cause psychological disorders, which symptomize schizoaffective disorder.
Childbirth is a very delicate process. Inappropriate handling of the child or the delivering mother can become responsible for the lifelong suffering of the newly born. Schizoaffective disorder might be caused as a birth defect.
The symptoms of the disorder are quite varied, ranging from the symptomatic set of most other psychological disorders. Also, it has been observed that the symptoms of respective cases are also different from one another. Some of the commonly found symptoms are as follows:
Disturbed thought process: It has been noted that patients of schizoaffective disorder often display a pattern of very disturbed thoughts. This may include paranoid thinking, perplexity, inability to have organized or logical thoughts affecting their behavior. Some patients also exhibit suicidal tendency.
Two prominent symptoms of Schizoaffective disorder are Hallucinations and Delusions. Hallucinations is a condition where a person starts sensing things which are not real and are just a construction of his mind. Delusion is a state when a person refuses to accept the reality and continues to believe in his own reality even after being contradicted by a superior evidence.
There are several physical symptoms as well. These include catatonia or the inability to move properly, loss of normalcy on speech etc. Hyperactivity or manic mood episodes characterize schizoaffective disorder.
Constant irritability, lack of focus or concentration, massive dietary alterations are some secondary symptoms.
As a result of the above stated symptoms, some other observable changes can be disinterested in socializing, social isolation, changes in sleep patterns or even insomnia.
As discussed, this rare disorder presents itself through various symptoms. Therefore, no treatment courses for two patients can be equivalent. Being under research, several investigational courses are applicable, depending on the case at hand.
Primarily, the disorder being incurable, requires incessant treatment. Medical treatment involves prescription and appropriate dosage of anti-psychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilizers to deal with the widespread symptoms, as mentioned above.
A major part of the treatment includes therapy for the various psychologically altering symptoms. Counseling and talk therapy is suggested. Talk therapy may be conducted individually or in a group. As the social skills of such patients is much altered, it needs to be dealt with utmost patience and care.
As the disorder is mostly found through genetic or birthing anomalies, no primary prevention steps can be applied. Quite often, during the course of treatment, a symptomatic relapse is observed. This is facilitated even further due to the experimental nature of the treatment procedure. A careful observation of the patient during experimental treatment courses, and proper backup via counselling or therapy sessions can be very vital towards prevention of a harmful relapse.
The schizoaffective disorder has been deemed lacking a permanent cure. But, the right care and treatment can bring it under control. Some recurring symptoms are euphoria, disinterest, mania, blank gazing etc. These need to be taken special care of, as such behavioral symptoms can only worsen by any negligence or ill-treatment met with.