How Does Schizoaffective Disorder Differ From Schizophrenia?

Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022

Schizoaffective disorder vs schizophrenia

Schizoaffective disorder vs schizophrenia
Despite their resemblance, schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are two different conditions.

Despite their resemblance, schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are two different conditions.

Schizoaffective disorder is a long-term or chronic mental illness. As suggested by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it is characterized by both psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia-like hallucinations or delusions, along with signs of mood episodes, such as mania or depression. With a lifetime prevalence of only 0.3 percent, it is a rare disease.

Those affected with schizoaffective disorder have similar symptoms compared to schizophrenia. Apart from hallucinating, delusions, feeling lost or away from reality, they experience manic behavior with extreme mood highs or lows, depressed mood, trouble getting sleep, have a poor appetite, or a change in usual food intake, socially inactive, and more.

What is schizophrenia and what are the symptoms?

Schizophrenia is a lifelong mental disorder that affects about 24 million individuals globally. This amounts to 0.32 percent of the population, and in adults, it is 1 in 222 participants (0.45 percent).

People with the disorder may:

  • Suddenly lose touch with reality
  • Suffer delusions and hallucinations
  • Have disorganized speech
  • Suffer from difficulty thinking
  • Experience a lack of desire in life

The symptoms of schizophrenia can be severe and life-threatening if left untreated. However, when effective remedies are available for the patient, the symptoms can be considerably improved with therapy and the risk of recurrence can be reduced.

What are the 2 types of schizoaffective disorder?

Diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder may be tricky because it may be confused with or misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.

Schizoaffective disorder is of two types:

  1. Depressive pattern: Only serious depressive episodes.
  2. Bipolar personality: This category comprises manic episodes that may or may not be accompanied by depressed episodes.

Diagnosis would include a physical examination by the doctor to rule out any other possible causes for the signs. They will inquire about any prescriptions or drugs used for any other condition. Following this, the primary care physician may recommend a mental health expert.


What's Schizophrenia? Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment See Slideshow

What causes schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia's potential etiology remains unknown. According to research, a person's risk of developing the illness is increased by a combination of biological, genetic, behavioral, and environmental variables.

A traumatic or deeply emotional life experience may cause a psychotic episode in some individuals who are predisposed to schizophrenia. However, why some people exhibit clear symptoms and others do not is unidentified.

What are the risk factors for schizophrenia?

The risk factors for schizophrenia may include:

  • Schizophrenia can run in families in some cases. According to genetic studies, multiple genetic predispositions enhance the likelihood of developing schizophrenia, but no single gene causes the condition.
  • Environmental factors, such as childhood traumas, dysfunctional families, broken families, and addiction problems in the family, play a key role in those who are genetically predisposed to developing the condition.
  • Alterations in the structure of the brain, function, and exchanges among chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) are thought to have a role in the development of schizophrenia. This could be the difference in levels of various neurotransmitters, brain development, etc.

Due to the stigmas associated with schizophrenia, people with schizophrenia face social exclusion that affects their connections with one another, including friends and family. Such exclusion leads to discrimination, thus limiting access to general health care, education, housing, and work.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/30/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Patel KR, Cherian J, Gohil K, Atkinson D. Schizophrenia: overview and treatment options. P T. 2014;39(9):638-645.