Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of mood disturbances that are often seen in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
According to the National Institute of Health, people with this mental health problem are often misdiagnosed, as the medical community tends to group people into one category or another.
One of the major problems with schizoaffective disorder is that people can often have such disorders in their life that they are unable to work, have meaningful relationships, and seek help through disability to help survive financially. With each case comes various degrees of severity. One person may have delusions and hallucinations as more of the schizophrenia side comes to the fore, while another person may have more mania with some paranoia.
The diagnosis of this condition is often made over a period of time. The mental health professional must observe the individual at various stages throughout their cognitive challenges. If someone has hallucinations, it could be easy to classify it as schizophrenia, but the mania could come later.
Due to the intricate nature of this disorder, it is often difficult to get a diagnosis right away. Fortunately, you can help your medical provider by writing down the things that you or your loved one experiences. A journal can act as a roadmap to help your provider understand your thought processes and the things that concern you.
Behaviors of people with schizoaffective disorder
It is important to recognize what signs or behaviors are indicative of a schizoaffective disorder. While psychosis can be a sign, it can also be an indication of a depressive disorder. These are the most commonly observed symptoms of schizoaffective syndrome.
A person with schizoaffective does not see the outside world in the same way as others. They see things around them, as well as people, as a threat. They can be distant because they are afraid to get involved with them. Also, if they suffer from delusions or hallucinations, it can also influence their social discomfort.
Delusions are false beliefs. For example, a person with schizoaffective disorder may believe that they can fly. How many times have you heard of someone jumping off the side of the building and dying? Perhaps these people did not want to commit suicide, but they may have had delusions where they thought they could fly.
Delusions cause people to say and do unusual things. You often hear of people who think they are God or some other powerful creature, but in reality they are simply delusional. The word is often used in slang to describe someone who does not think clearly.
Hallucinations are another sensation that the schizoaffective person has that the typical person does not have. These hallucinations can be auditory, visual or even come from smell. For example, a person may hear voices telling them to do things, like kill someone.
They can see things that no one else sees, like a man standing in the kitchen. It is as if the schizoaffective person has his own little world in which he hears, sees and smells things that no one else around him can.
It all comes from the brain, although some believe that the veil between the spirit world and the mentally ill is a little thinner. However, there is no concrete evidence for that theory.
4. Impaired communication
A schizoaffective person may not be able to communicate with others. It is not because they lack intelligence; in many cases, it is because they are on a totally different level. Remember the movie Rain Man that came out in 1988. Starring Dustin Hoffman as the man with schizophrenia.
In the movie, he went on a road trip with his brother, who was not at all familiar with how to handle his disorder. Throughout the show, the challenges of dealing with his mental health were clearly seen, but it was also possible to glimpse how smart he was.
It is often the same with people in life. They don’t delay, but their thought processes are so different that they often can’t communicate effectively.
5. Hygiene problems
When a person has serious mental problems, their hygiene often counts, depending on Dr. Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD. They don’t see the need for things like a shower, putting on deodorant, and brushing their teeth. They can be told and encouraged to do these things, but they are not that important to them.
There is no real reason why hygiene issues are lacking in serious mental disorders. However, it is seen across the board in almost all mental illnesses. With the person who has schizoaffective, you may have 101 other things in mind and not consider your hygiene needs.
Since this disorder combines bipolar and schizophreniaIt is not uncommon to have periods of mania. Mania is different for everyone, but it can lead them to do things like write bad checks, spend all their money on frivolous things, and jump off a building because they feel like they have superpowers.
Having a manic period means that you do something out of the ordinary to get yourself in big trouble. This can also be even more serious when you add delusions or hallucinations to the mix.
Depression is very common with bipolar disorder, which is why it is often seen in this combined illness. Manic depressive episodes can be unbearable for the individual and their family. They may refuse to get out of bed, shower, eat, or go to work. They lose touch with reality because their depression is so severe that they can barely function.
8. Prolonged periods without sleep and with extra energy
Having bipolar is often classified as having long periods of little or no sleep and being overexcited. Although this is classified as a manic episode, there are different components. The person is not actually doing anything to get him into trouble, but he has so much energy that he cannot calm down.
Signs of this can include:
- Talking too fast
- Acting like they have ADHD because they have a lot of energy.
- Being awake for days without sleep.
Remember, they will collapse after a long time without sleep, and depression is likely to come into play.
Some people with schizophrenia may have periods when they are inconsistent. They may appear to be awake, but they cannot communicate with you. Some will enter a catatonic state that is even more difficult to distinguish.
With catatonia, the person may be awake and can move their eyes, but their body is frozen and they cannot speak, according to the National Institute of Health. It is extremely rare to see this condition, but it occurs when it comes to more serious mental illnesses.
10. Anxiety disorders
Since there are so many things on this person’s mind, it is not uncommon for there to be anxiety disorders as well. When a person shows signs of paranoia, they may be anxious or afraid to interact with people or things. For example, if someone is delusional and thinks someone is poisoning their food, they may be too eager to eat something.
Another common sign would be when a person has obsessive compulsive disorder along with schizoaffective disorder. They can use numbers and patterns, and OCD would make them repeat themselves more carefully or categorize things according to these mental demands.
11. Social isolation
It’s easy to see why someone dealing with all this chaos on their mind would want to isolate themselves from others. Social isolation is a big problem. These people don’t know how to communicate and they always feel like the “weird man.”
12. Suicidal ideation
The schizophrenic person often dreams of suicide to put an end to his torment. Also, if they have hallucinations, the voices can tell them to take their own life or someone else’s life. Unfortunately, with bipolar minima we get to the same problem. The risk that a person with schizoaffective disorder will kill themselves can be significant and must be closely monitored.
Mayo Clinic advises you to seek help for yourself if you have these thoughts.
Final thoughts on schizoaffective disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is without a doubt one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat. There is no cure, but some treatment methods can make things better. This person should have a strong support system around him that can tell when things start to get bad.
Since there are often marked periods of ups and downs, managing this mental health issue is often challenging. While there are no longer nursing homes where people are locked up for mental health issues, there are places where people with such challenges can stay long-term. Group homes often become a viable option for those with such severe mental health needs, as it is often exhausting for the family to help out for extended periods.
Since both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have components of chemical imbalances within the brain, eating the right foods and getting plenty of exercise can only help. Eating foods that stimulate serotoninsuch as bananas, chia seeds, flax seeds, eggs, tofu, and many others, can help. It is a challenging condition, but it can be controlled.