By Martine Daniel
Key Themes: schizoaffective disorder, mania, depression, psychosis
Schizoaffective disorder is a condition which shares symptoms with both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and which affects as many as 1 in 200 people – 0.5% of the population. Surprisingly, there have been few books written about schizoaffective disorder, and even fewer aimed at the general reader.
Schizoaffective Disorder Simplified is your comprehensive and up-to-date guide to schizoaffective disorder, featuring an introduction to the condition, its symptoms, its treatment and various ways that people can learn to manage their illness, as well as a series of helpful worksheets for people with schizoaffective disorder. Aimed at the general reader, whether you have schizoaffective disorder, care for someone with the illness or just have a curious interest in the subject, this book will answer all your questions about schizoaffective disorder, and give you an insight into what it is like to live with mania, depression and psychosis.
About the Author
Martine Daniel was born in York in 1981. From a young age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and whilst at secondary school she would often be caught scribbling stories in the back of exercise books during lessons. Her dreams of seeing her name in print never dimmed, despite her life being turned upside down by episodes of mania, depression and psychosis during her late teens and early twenties.
In 2003 the pressures of a stressful job brought on an episode of psychotic mania, which led to the breakdown that ended her hopes of a career in bookselling, following which Martine was finally forced into contact with local mental health services. With the help of medication and the support of her family, she began to pick up the pieces of her life and started work on her first novel The Fire in Your Eyes (published 2009), juggling work on the novel with her studies with The Open University. Her second novel, Legacy of Lies, the sequel to The Fire in Your Eyes, and her third novel, Wading the Waters of my Mind, were both published in 2010.
Martine is a keen supporter of the Time to Change campaign and hopes that her writing can help to put an end to the stigma of mental illness.
Chapter One: Introducing Schizoaffective Disorder
What is schizoaffective disorder?
Most people will have heard of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) but you could be forgiven for never having heard about schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is less common than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and it is an often misunderstood condition.
Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental illness that can have profoundly disrupting effects on people’s lives. It is closely related to both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and shares symptoms with both the disorders. It was once thought that people with schizoaffective disorder were actually experiencing an unlucky coincidence of the two conditions. Now, however, schizoaffective disorder is recognised as an illness in its own right.
Schizoaffective disorder can easily be confused with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia because the symptoms are very similar. Someone with schizoaffective disorder will generally experience the hallucinations and delusions that are commonly associated with schizophrenia at the same time as, or within a few days of, experiencing the mood disturbances of mania or depression that are usually associated with bipolar disorder.
Statistically, around one in every two hundred people (0.5% of the population) will develop schizoaffective disorder at some point in their lives. This figure, however, may not be accurate, because many people with schizoaffective disorder are mistakenly diagnosed with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. This is because it is often difficult for psychiatrists to distinguish between the three conditions, particularly in the early stages of assessment. It can often take many months, or even years, for a correct diagnosis to be given.
What are the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder?
The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions and thought disorder, and affective symptoms, such as hypomania, mania, depression and mixed states.
The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are very similar to the symptoms of bipolar disorder with psychosis, which is one of the reasons the condition is so difficult to diagnose. The main difference between schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder with psychosis is that people with schizoaffective disorder will experience the psychotic symptoms outside of a mood episode as well as during a mood episode, whereas someone with bipolar disorder will experience hallucinations and delusions only during a mood episode.
Part one of this book explains the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder in more depth.