Schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are both mental health conditions characterized by psychosis, hallucinations, and delusions. But there are some critical differences between the two, so understanding them independently is essential to distinguish between these two conditions properly.
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain condition that usually begins in young adulthood. It is characterized by psychological symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and behavior.1 On the other hand, schizoaffective disorder is a condition that affects a person’s thinking and emotions. Schizoaffective disorder manifests as a combination of the symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder, either depression or bipolar disorder. In addition, schizoaffective disorder affects about 2% of the population of the United States, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).2
Schizophrenia vs schizoaffective disorder differ from each other on several levels, including emotionally, behaviorally, and physically. For example, individuals with schizoaffective disorder exhibit mood symptoms, such as depression, mania, and many others. However, people exhibiting only schizophrenia mood disorder symptoms do not tend to display mood-related signs in general, and more so experience physical symptoms.3
The symptoms of both conditions will be detailed below.
Causative agents for mental health illnesses are often unknown and tricky to spot. These causes are often linked to genetic predisposition and intense childhood trauma, among a few others. Here are the main causes of schizophrenia vs schizoaffective disorder:
The causes of schizophrenia spectrum disorders are complex and not fully understood. Researchers believe it may be caused by genetics, brain chemistry distortion, and the environment. It has also been linked to childhood trauma or abuse. A schizophrenia diagnosis might also stem from sensory overload.
The relationship between schizophrenia and sensory issues can be challenging to understand. A person with an extreme sensitivity to certain sensory stimuli might develop schizophrenia. In clinically diagnosed patients, schizophrenia and sensory issues should be monitored.5
A patient must meet specific criteria to ascertain if an individual has schizophrenia vs schizoaffective disorder. The difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is also visible in their diagnostic process. The differential diagnosis for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is seen to be:
A schizophrenia differential diagnosis is usually made with a schizoaffective disorder test. A positive result is if an individual has had two or more episodes of psychosis that have lasted for at least one week. These psychotic episodes may include hallucinations or delusions.
Other schizophrenia differential diagnosis factors according to DSM-5 include:6
The borderline schizophrenia test is also another tool for diagnosing schizophrenia.
It entails a series of questions that help individuals understand the nature of their mental state.
To be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, the affected individual must meet the following schizoaffective disorder test criteria:
After the schizoaffective disorder diagnostic criteria has been met, and a borderline schizophrenia test is conclusive, treatment can then begin. The treatment for schizoaffective disorder depends on the severity of the symptoms and can include medications, psychotherapy, and other self-help tips.
Medications can help suppress the symptoms of schizoaffective cognitive impairment. They may be used alone or with other medicines and psychosocial interventions. Medications for schizoaffective disorder include:
Therapy can help people with schizoaffective disorder learn how to cope with their condition and understand it better through schizoaffective disorder psychotherapy.
There are many similar ways to treat schizophrenia as one would treat schizoaffective disorder, but treatment differs in a few ways, which are outlined below.
Irrespective of their differences, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are both mental illnesses. These health conditions also share similar symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and disorganized speech. Also, schizoaffective disorder is similar to schizophrenia because both conditions share common genetic risk factors. Both disorders are also treated with similar medications to manage their symptoms.
Overall, in both condition there are:7
The outlook for people with schizoaffective disorder varies. Many people recover and have normal lives while being managed. Still, some may have repeated episodes of illness and require long-term treatment.
Coping skills for schizoaffective disorder help individuals live a fuller life by improving their moods, relationships, and overall health. To aid early management and treatment, people with schizoaffective disorder genetic risk factors should be monitored closely.
The outlook for people with schizophrenia is better than it was years ago. More than half of those who get treatment can lead productive lives. While there is no cure for schizophrenia, it can be appropriately managed to reduce symptoms to as minimal as possible.
As a result, many people with the disorder can lead productive lives, working and raising families. Irrespective of a differential diagnosis for schizophrenia.
The key difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is that people with schizoaffective disorder also have schizophrenia and mood disorder-related symptoms. However, Iris Healing® clinicians can treat both conditions’ symptoms with medication, psychotherapy, self-management strategies, and education.
With help from Iris Healing®, individuals with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder can learn to manage their symptoms, cope with life’s challenges, and live fulfilling lives. In addition, we have medical experts who have dedicated their lives to patient care and ensuring that each person gets the best treatment possible. We will be with you or your loved one every step of the way during treatment and other avenues of coping with the disorders.