Differences between schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder are two conditions that can become truly disabling if not treated properly.

The two disorders share symptoms of depression and mania, and the diagnosis is sometimes complicated by difficulty distinguishing between the two. However, there are some important characteristics that differentiate them that can be used to identify them correctly.

In this article we discuss the main differences between schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorderBut first, we told you what these two mental disorders are.

    What is schizoaffective disorder?

    Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health disorder characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. Many people with this disorder are often mistakenly diagnosed early with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

    Because schizoaffective disorder is less studied than the other two conditions, many interventions are borrowed from their treatment approaches. Schizoaffective disorder is relatively rare, with a lifetime prevalence of only 0.3%. Men and women suffer from schizoaffective disorder at the same rate, but men often develop the disease at an earlier age.

    The specific causes are unknown, but it has been suggested that there could be a combination of genetic and hereditary factors, stress, and structural and functional aspects in the brain. There are two different types of this disorder: The Bolar type, which includes episodes of mania and sometimes episodes of severe depression; and the depressive type, which includes only depressive symptoms.

    Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder that you share with schizophrenia include: hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, depressed mood, or manic behavior (depending on the type of disorder). He also shares symptoms of depression, such as weight loss or loss, lack of energy, feelings of guilt, trouble sleeping, and thoughts of suicide; and symptoms of mania, such as restlessness, exaggerated self-esteem, drowsiness, or increased social, sexual, or work activities.

      Bipolar disorder: definition, types and symptoms

      Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, Is a brain disorder that causes unusual changes in mood, energy, activity levels, and ability to perform daily tasks. There are four basic types of bipolar disorder and they all involve overt changes in mood.

      These moods range from periods of extremely euphoric and energetic behavior (called manic episodes) to very sad or hopeless times (Known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are called hypomanic episodes.

      Hypomania is a mild form of mania and its symptoms are less severes. Psychotic symptoms usually do not occur, nor do the changes in behavior that force the patient to be hospitalized. The person perceives the hypomanic state as a feeling of intense well-being, with increased self-esteem and creative capacity.

      In hypomanic states, it is not uncommon for the consumption of alcohol and other psychoactive substances to increase. Additionally, people in a hypomanic state often initiate relationships and plans that are later regretted after the hypomanic episode ends.

      Bipolar disorder can be classified into different types. Let’s see which one:

      Type I bipolar disorder

      This type is defined by manic episodes lasting at least 7 days or by manic symptoms so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes also occur and usually last at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed characteristics (having both depression and manic symptoms) are also possible.

      Bipolar disorder type II

      This type of bipolar disorder is characterized by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not by the complete manic episodes described in type I bipolar disorder.

      cyclothymic disorder

      Also called cyclothymia, this type of bipolar disorder is defined as the many periods of hypomanic symptoms and the many periods of depressive symptoms lasting at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.

      Other unspecified bipolar disorders

      This category would include all people who have symptoms of bipolar disorder but who do not fit into the three categories above.

      Differences between schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder

      It is often difficult to distinguish between schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder because the two diseases share symptoms (euphoria and depression). However, one of the main differences between the two disorders is the presence of severe psychotic symptoms, which only occur in schizoaffective disorder.

      Schizoaffective disorder is believed to be halfway between schizophrenia and type I bipolar disorder, as its course is similar to the latter although psychotic episodes can be experienced without the need for episodes of mania and depression. depression. When diagnosed, it is usually more difficult to detect the presence of a schizoaffective disorder; however, the treatment used is similar to that used for bipolar disorder, that is, maintenance antipsychotic drugs.

      If we look at psychiatric textbooks and nosological classifications, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that includes severe depression and varies from start to finish (From mania to depression) very variable. For its part, schizoaffective disorder is defined at the psychiatric level as a psychosis with less acute and more treatable emotional symptoms (manic or depressive) than those of schizophrenia, with which it shares certain characteristics.

      Regarding the pharmacological therapeutic approach, research on the treatment of bipolar disorder has progressed modestly in recent years; and when it comes to schizoaffective disorder, there has been tremendous progress over other diseases such as schizophrenia.

      In short, schizoaffective disorder involves symptoms similar to those that occur in schizophrenia, With the addition of various emotional symptoms, whether depressive or euphoric, or the sum of the two types; that is, as a link between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Benabarre, A., Vieta, E., Colom, F., Martinez-Aran, A., Reinares, M. and Gasto, C. (2001). Bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia: epidemiological, clinical and prognostic differences. European Psychiatry, 16 (3), 167-172.
      • Cosoff, SJ and Hafner, RJ (1998). The prevalence of comorbid anxiety in schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 32 (1), 67-72.
      • Szoke, A., Meary, A., Rose, A., Bellivier, F., Roy, I., Schurhoff, F. and Leboyer, M. (2008). Executive deficits in psychotic and bipolar disorders: implications for our understanding of schizoaffective disorder. European Psychiatry, 23 (1), 20-25.

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