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Schizoaffective Disorder

I’ve been doing more research, reading some articles and blogs, and I think I have a better understanding of this.

Schizoaffective disorder has two types, bipolar type and depressive type. Bipolar type shows mood swings and mania, while depressive type shows depressive episodes.

Since I’ve been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, I’m going to talk about that one the most.

According to HealthyPlace, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder are in two completely separate categories.

  • Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder –the primary symptoms are a disturbance in mood; in other words, inappropriate feelings given the environment. (Extensive information on bipolar disorder, symptoms, causes, treatment)
  • Schizoaffective disorder is a psychotic disorder – the primary symptoms are that of psychosis; in other words, delusions and hallucinations.

A person with bipolar disorder can have hallucinations or delusions as part of a mood episode (think bipolar with psychotic features) and still be considered just bipolar. The psychotic features are not the main problem. The mood symptoms are. Just like a person with schizoaffective disorder can have mood symptoms but not be bipolar, because the mood symptoms are not the main issue at hand.

Here are the criteria for schizoaffective disorder according to the DSM-IV:

The schizoaffective DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria are the following:1

  • An uninterrupted period of illness occurs during which a major depressive episode, a manic episode, or a mixed episode occurs with symptoms that meet criterion A (see below) for schizophrenia. The major depressive episode must include a depressed mood.
  • During the same period of illness, delusions or hallucinations occur for at least 2 weeks, in the absence of prominent mood symptoms.
  • Symptoms that meet the criteria for mood episodes are present for a substantial portion of the total active and residual periods of illness.
  • The disturbance is not due to the direct physiologic effects of a substance (e.g. illicit drugs, medications) or a general medical condition.
  • The bipolar type is diagnosed if the disturbance includes a manic or a mixed episode (or a manic or a mixed episode and major depressive episodes).
  • The depressive type is diagnosed if the disturbance includes only major depressive episodes.

So, seeing that, and reading a couple of blogs from people with the disorder, I think that I might have had this all along and I’ve been misdiagnosed previously.

Looking back on my life, I can remember times that I’ve seen ghosts – started when I was a kid. They were always in my house, in my school, at work. I thought, at one point that maybe I was a medium of sorts. When I was younger, I used to talk to angels – or that’s what I’ve been told by my mom. Hallucinations of death, that I recognized as death, started when I was 15. I noticed that the hallucinations stopped when I got on medications. By that time though, I really just thought I had an active imagination, I never expected that I had a mental health disorder that caused me to have hallucinations.

I’ve known for a long time that I’ve been bipolar. The mood symptoms are just too much not to notice. The highs and the lows.

One thing I know, this disorder doesn’t make me scary or dangerous. I am not a danger to others or to myself. I’m ok. And if I need help, I have the resources to get help.

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