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Schizoaffective Bipolar Disorder

That’s my new diagnosis. I don’t know how to feel about it. To be honest, it makes me feel crazy. I’m fine with being bipolar. I’ve been fine with it for a while now, you know except when I’m screaming that I don’t want to be bipolar anymore…. But other than that, I’m ok. But you start throwing words like schizoaffective/schizophrenic at me…that’s where I start getting scared.

I know it’s the stigma. The stigma attached to the words schizophrenic, schizophrenia, and schizo is bad. That’s where people start saying that you’re crazy, dangerous, etc. And I am scared of a word. That’s all it is really, a word to describe my symptoms. But the stigma that comes with it, even as someone who wants to be an advocate, just terrifies me.

What is schizoaffective disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. -NAMI

Schizoaffective disorder is a relatively rare disorder and has been little studied but it is estimated to affect 0.32% of the population. The cause of schizoaffective disorder is not known but genes and brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) may play a role. Some doctors believe that schizoaffective disorder is simply a variant of schizophrenia and not a separate disorder in its own right.1 – Healthy Place

Symptoms

Schizoaffective disorder symptoms may vary from person to person. People with the condition experience psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder — either bipolar type (episodes of mania and sometimes depression) or depressive type (episodes of depression).

The course of schizoaffective disorder usually features cycles of severe symptoms followed by periods of improvement with less severe symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder depend on the type — bipolar or depressive type — and may include, among others:

  • Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there
  • Symptoms of depression, such as feeling empty, sad or worthless
  • Periods of manic mood or a sudden increase in energy with behavior that’s out of character
  • Impaired communication, such as only partially answering questions or giving answers that are completely unrelated
  • Impaired occupational, academic and social functioning
  • Problems with managing personal care, including cleanliness and physical appearance

— Mayo Clinic

From the little information that I have been given on the disorder, and it wasn’t from the doctor, it’s a “newer” diagnosis. And according to the information that I can find online it’s difficult to diagnose because it’s a mix of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, so people who have the schizoaffective disorder often get “misdiagnosed” with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. And apparently it’s different than bipolar disorder with psychotic features because of how the psychotic and mood symptoms present in this disorder.

When I get back to the doctor in January, I hope to get more information. For now, this is all I have. So if any of my readers have any information that they have found, experienced, or anyone has shared with them, could you pass it along to me?

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