You’ve likely never heard of schizoaffective disorder, and that’s because it affects only roughly 0.3 percent of the population. While men and women will experience the disorder at the same rate, men will develop the condition at a much younger age. The severity of the issue makes it fortunate that it is less common, but for those struggling, it can be rather severe and affect most areas of their lives.
When examining the prevalence of schizoaffective disorder in our society, those familiar with the condition may wonder how it affects men versus women. There is research that shows men and women develop it at the same rate with no discernible difference between the sexes. There are other reports, however, that show two-thirds of those with the disorder were female. Both studies mention that men are more likely to develop schizoaffective at a younger age.
While there are debates around the inclusion of the disorder in psychiatric nosology, schizoaffective disorder is said to be a variation of schizophrenia. Mood symptoms are unusually prominent but not unusual. The condition is said by experts to reflect a severe form of either bipolar or major depressive disorder, where episode-related psychotic symptoms fail to remit completely between mood episodes.
A person can develop schizoaffective disorder anywhere in their late teen years or early adulthood. The most common age range for someone to develop the condition is 16 to 30. One of the severe side effects is memory loss, which will occur anytime after the disorder has developed.
What Is Schizoaffective Disorder?
Schizoaffective disorder is viewed as a severe mental illness involving psychotic symptoms that are associated with schizophrenia. Some of these include delusions and hallucinations but will be coupled with mood symptoms such as mania or depression.
An exact definition of the disorder is challenging to present because it is less understood than other mental health disorders. It is a combination of various mental health conditions that affect each person differently.
Those struggling with schizoaffective that are inadequately treated will experience adverse consequences as a result of their intrusive symptoms. Some people with the disorder will have to completely rely on family or loved ones to function.
Psychotic symptoms that occur will affect cognitive functions, such as decision-making, thinking, concentrating, memory, and problem-solving. Unfortunately, in addition to these terrible symptoms, a person can experience disorganized speech, bizarre delusions, and paranoia.
The symptoms may not always be present, but those with schizoaffective will have a difficult time distinguishing what is real. It will cause them to have a hard time functioning, which will cause them hardship holding a job, succeeding in school, or having social relationships.
Schizoaffective And Memory Loss
Schizoaffective is known to cause severe memory loss, and researchers have determined that a pattern of brain activity may be the first sign of memory problems. Scientists have long believed that memory problems in schizoaffective stem from disruptions in the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
It is an area of our brain that plays a role in memory. It temporarily stores and manages information that is required to carry out cognitive tasks, but research has researchers in a different direction. They still have not determined a cause.
One of the most troubling and disturbing aspects of schizoaffective is how it affects memory. Every conscious thought and act we possess is based on our ability to remember past events. Disturbance in cognitive ability is likely to bring about dysfunction in daily activities, and memory deficit is the key area of impairment in those struggling with schizoaffective.
Causes Of Schizoaffective Disorder
The exact cause is still unknown, but key components that contribute to the development of schizoaffective disorder include:
- Genetics: The disorder tends to run in families, but it does not mean if someone has the illness, you will get it, too. It does mean your chances are higher of developing schizoaffective.
- Brain chemistry and structure: Scientists are only starting to understand brain function and structure, but brain scans are helping to move this research forward.
- Stress: Stressful events such as losing a family member, a failed marriage, or a loss of a job may trigger symptoms or an onset of the illness.
- Drug use: Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD have been linked to the development of schizoaffective disorder.
How Is Schizoaffective Treated?
Schizoaffective is viewed as a severe disorder. New medications for schizophrenia or other mood disorders, in conjunction with psychotherapy, have been proven effective in managing the condition. There have been more successful treatment options despite the lack of knowledge surrounding schizoaffective. Medication is prescribed by physicians to stabilize the extreme mood states and help with psychotic symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one medication to treat the condition. Invega is an antipsychotic drug that can help someone reestablish a fulfilling life.