Mental disorders are classified according to how severe an impact they have on the mind's ability to function normally. Schizophrenia is listed as a psychosis, which is one of the more debilitating conditions. Bipolar manic depression falls under the mood disorder category. When these two conditions occur simultaneously, individuals experience symptoms from both disorders. Diagnosis and treatment become more of a challenge for individuals dealing with both conditions.
Schizophrenic bipolar manic depression is a mental illness in which symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are present in equal degrees. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-IV, the actual diagnosis for this condition is schizoaffective disorder. Symptoms associated with this illness include hallucinations, delusions and distorted thinking coupled with episodes of major depression and/or mania. These two conditions combined make it difficult to diagnose schizoaffective disorder as individuals show symptoms from two classifications.
Individuals with schizoaffective disorder experience an interplay of symptoms from both schizophrenia and bipolar conditions. Bipolar disorder is made up of episodes of major depression followed by periods of mania, or extreme joy and activity. Persons with schizophrenia may experience any number of symptoms ranging from hallucinations to paranoia, delusions or distorted thinking. With schizoaffective disorder, individuals experience a two-week period in which no symptoms of bipolar are present. If no remission of bipolar symptoms occurs, schizoaffective disorder is not present.
As schizoaffective disorders combine aspects of both a psychosis and a mood disorder, a number of symptoms accompany the condition. Along with paranoid thoughts and bouts with depression and mania, individuals may experience irritability and difficulty controlling their temper. Confusion and incoherent speech patterns are apparent. Thoughts of suicide and homicide are not uncommon. An individual may also exhibit catatonic behaviors where he fails to respond when spoken to, or he can express extreme agitation when no one is around. Sleep disturbances are also possible.
The treatment of schizoaffective disorder requires that both sets of symptoms--those associated with schizophrenia, and those with bipolar--be treated together. The severity of a person's symptoms and the type of symptoms experienced will determine what course of treatment is needed. Prescription medications and psychotherapy are the traditional treatment models. Medications used include anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers and antidepressants. In terms of psychotherapy, individuals learn ways to manage distorted thinking processes, as well as how to handle themselves during episodes of mania and depression.
The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is unknown, but some theories point to imbalances within the brain's chemistry, while others suspect it's caused by birth complications involving viruses or malnutrition. A more recent theory, presented in the Johns Hopkins Neurology & Neurosurgery Journal from winter 2004, has singled out a specific set of chromosomes as the cause. A team of researchers led by Dr. Jason Potash conducted experiments where the chromosome make-up of bipolar and schizophrenic individuals was found to have specific markers associated with each condition. The team hopes to discover an additional marker that shows up within both schizophrenia and bipolar profiles.
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What Is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and debilitating brain disease that often causes bizarre behavior, disorganized speech, fleeting thoughts and hallucinations. Find out...