I felt it was time to talk about Schizoaffective Disorder. I live with this everyday, and quite frankly I don’t see very much awareness on the subject, or even much information to be honest. Now is the time to change that. I’m quite passionate about spreading awareness about a few different panels. Such as asexuality, agender persons, and of course, Schizoaffective Disorder.
As usual I will have some stats and facts for you throughout this article.
Schizoaffective Disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of Schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. There are two types, each has some Schizophrenia symptoms.
-Bipolar type: episodes of mania and sometimes major depression.
-Depressive type: only major depressive episodes
I personally am the latter. I periodically have major depressive episodes. On top of that, I also have pretty severe anxiety. Definitely not a fun combination. In fact, the last few days I’ve had a bad combination of both depression and anxiety. I am completely depressed, and the thought of going to work is making me very anxious. Everyday I leave the house, especially to go to work, I have severe anxiety.
Many people with Schizoaffective Disorder are often incorrectly diagnosed at first with Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia. I’ve been through a few diagnosis. Starting with my depression, that of which I was diagnosed with when I was approximately thirteen or fourteen. When I finally got a professional psychiatrist, she diagnosed me with Dissociative Disorder. Later on, I went to a different doctor. She diagnosed me with Major Depression, Panic Disorder, and Psychosis. After a while, this doctor finally diagnosed me with Schizoaffective Disorder. Me being me, I did tons of research after that. I believe this is the correct diagnosis for me.
Schizoaffective is fairly rare, with a lifetime prevalence of only 0.3%. Men and women experience schizoaffective disorder at the same rate, but men often develop the illness at an earlier age. Schizoaffective disorder can be managed effectively with medication and therapy. Is it weird that this makes me feel quite special? Not many others have the same disorder as me. I am currently on several medications, and am looking for a new therapist as we speak. This combination is very helpful, at least to myself.
The symptoms of this disorder may vary greatly from one person to another. They may include:
-Delusions (false, sometimes strange beliefs that the person refuses to give up, even when they get the facts)
-Depressive Symptoms (feeling empty, sad, or worthless)
-Hallucinations(sensing things that aren't real, such as hearing voices)
-Lack of personal care (not staying clean or keeping up appearance)
-Mania or sudden, out-of-character jumps in energy levels or happiness, racing thoughts, or risky behavior
-Problems with speech and communication, only giving partial answers to questions or giving answers that are unrelated
-Trouble at work, school, or in social settings
Here is my list: Depression, hallucinations, problems with speech or communication(disorganized thoughts/speech), and trouble at work and in social settings(part of this is also my anxiety).
Let me try and explain the causes of Schizoaffective Disorder. To help me with this, I have a list from WebMD.
-Genetics: You may inherit a tendency to get features linked to schizoaffective disorder from your parents.
-Brain chemistry and structure: If you have schizophrenia and mood disorders, you might have problems with brain circuits that manage mood and thinking. Schizophrenia is also tied to lower levels of dopamine, a brain chemical that also helps manage these tasks.
-Environment: Some scientists think things like viral infections or highly stressful situations could play a part in getting schizoaffective disorder if you’re at risk for it. How that happens isn’t clear.
-Drug use: Taking mind-altering drugs. (Your doctor may call them psychoactive or psychotropic drugs.)
Now scientists don’t know the exact cause, this is just a list of the risk factors that may be included. I personally think mine is either genetic or my brain chemistry.
I’ve learned that this disorder shows itself in the late teen years to early adulthood. Personally, I believe my symptoms showed up in my teens. We just didn’t know what it was until I was almost thirty. As we learned about earlier, it is easily confused with psychotic or mood disorders. This is, of course, because Schizoaffective is a combination of two different disorders.
To diagnose this disorder, doctors rely on medical history, seeing as there are no lab tests one can take for Schizoaffective Disorder. They also use various tests such as brain imaging, such as MRI scans and blood tests to make sure that another type of illness isn’t causing your symptoms. If your doctor cannot find any physical causes, they will refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Me? I went straight to a psychiatrist to figure out what was wrong with me. What is it that makes me so different? At this time, my hallucinations, such as commanding voices, were really starting to scare me. In order to get diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, you must have:
-Periods of uninterrupted illness
-An episode of mania, major depression, or a mix of both
-Symptoms of schizophrenia
-At least two periods of psychotic symptoms, each lasting 2 weeks. One of the episodes must happen without depressive or manic symptoms.
Earlier on I did say how I treat my disorder. I’m on about five different medications (all for different things). At this moment, I don’t have a counselor, but I do have a psychiatrist(for my meds mainly). I am currently on the hunt for a new counselor. I have also been hospitalized twice in the last few years. Yes this can be helpful, especially when my hallucinations get out of hand.
I think that is about it for this post. This one is very personal for me. In a way, you get to see what it’s like in my day to day life. So I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Until next time,