Let’s say you have a day when you hear voices and hallucinate, the world around you becoming like a terribly un-fun house of mirrors. This day is then followed by a day when you feel extremely sad and hopeless.
‘No wonder I feel this way,’ you think, considering the confusing and scary day that came before. Then, on the third day, you feel on top of the world – so happy and energized that you could accomplish anything. You decide to get started on a new remodeling project in your home, full of hope and excitement. But when you wake up the following morning, you feel confused and lost again, wondering why your home is now so disordered.
This scenario is a highly dramatized example of what it feels like to have Schizoaffective Disorder. While rare – affecting just 0.3% of the population – Schizoaffective Disorder combines the hallucinations and delusions experienced during schizophrenia with the emotional highs and lows of a mood disorder like Depression or Bipolar Disorder. Sounds awful, right?
Schizoaffective Disorder can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms can include seeing and hearing things that don’t exist, holding onto fixed delusions even when presented with contrary evidence, depressed mood, manic behavior, and disorganized thinking in which the sufferer might switch from talking about one topic to another or respond to a question with a totally unrelated answer. Doctors aren’t fully sure what causes it, but Schizoaffective Disorder is thought to be triggered by stress or drug use, though genetics, brain structure, and brain chemistry might be to blame.
Thankfully, like many of the disorders we’ve talked about before on this blog, Schizoaffective Disorder can be treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. If you have Schizoaffective Disorder, it’s important to know what your triggers are, avoid drugs and alcohol, and establish healthy routines like good sleep and nutrition patterns.