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Schizophrenia & Schizoaffective Disorder

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is characterised by significant impairments in the way reality is perceived and changed behaviours related to: 

  • Persistent Delusions: The person has fixed beliefs that something is true, despite evidence to the contrary. 
  • Persistent Hallucinations: The person may hear, smell, see, touch or feel things that are not there. 
  • Experiences of influence, control, or passivity: The experience that one's feelings, impulses, actions, or thoughts are not generated by oneself, are being placed in one's mind or withdrawn from one's mind by others or that one's thoughts are being broadcast to others. 
  • Disorganised thinking: which is often observed as jumbled or irrelevant speech. 
  • Disorganised behaviour
  • "Negative symptoms" such as very limited speech, restricted experience and expression of emotions, inability to experience interest or pleasure, and social withdrawal.
  • Extreme agitation or slowing of movements, maintenance of unusual postures. 
  • People with schizophrenia can also experience persistent difficulties with their cognitive or thinking skills, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. 

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a psychiatric condition that includes symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder. Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder fall into two categories:

  • Psychosis (similar to schizophrenia): Symptoms that affect perceptions of reality and thoughts and behaviours. 
  • Mood (similar to bipolar disorder or major depression): Symptoms that affect emotions and often include low mood and depressive symptoms. 

Specific symptoms include:

  • Delusions or false beliefs.
  • Disorganised, confused and unclear thinking.
  • Unusual thoughts and perceptions. 
  • Hallucinations. 
  • Paranoid ideas and thoughts.
  • Periods of depression. 
  • Manic mood, or unexpected boosts of energy with behaviour that is out of character. 
  • Erratic and uncontrollable temper. 
  • Irritability. 
  • Incoherent speech, switching between topics that do not relate to the current conversation. 
  • Difficulties in holding attention.
  • Minimal responding or agitation without apparent cause. 
  • A lack of concern for personal hygiene or physical appearance. 
  • Sleep disturbances and difficulties. 

The most common mood disorders that accompany schizoaffective disorders and features of schizophrenia are bipolar disorder and depression.