Schizophrenia Disorders I

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Overview – Schizophrenia Disorders, Part 1

The name Schizophrenia is only a couple hundred years old, although descriptions of the disease supposedly relate back to at least Egypt in the time of the Pharaohs. Schizophrenia disorders typically manifest in late teens to early twenties. Infants can present with what are termed soft neurological signs that are predictive of schizophrenia later in life. These signs alone are not definitive, however, as they can be indicative of other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder or sensory deficits, such as hearing impairment. These signs include:

  • Lack of eye contact with their care-giver
  • Emotional flatness or lack of affect
  • Failure to meet developmental milestones for coordination

Prevalence for Schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders in the United States is estimated to range between 0.25 and 1.0 percent. This tends to rise if there is a family history of the disorder, as family history tends to be the number one risk factor for Schizophrenia. Changes in a gene known as C4 have been linked with the disorder. Family studies have revealed that the closer an individual’s genetic relatedness to a person with schizophrenia, the greater the likelihood of developing the disorder. Twin studies have shown that an identical twin has a risk of also developing the disorder that hovers slightly under 50.0 percent. For a fraternal twin the estimate is 17.0 percent; a 9.0 percent risk if a full sibling is diagnosed, and so on. The inheritability, or genetic factor, is linked with other environmental or epigenetic factors.

The clinical manifestations are extremely diverse with symptoms varying with the individual. Several subtypes have been identified that incorporate new information about the nature of these psychotic illnesses. There are two types of schizoaffective disorder, both of which include some symptoms of schizophrenia: Bipolar type which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression; and Depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes

Schizophrenia Disorders, Part 1, presents information on four types of disorders, one type each day for four days. These are:

Schizophrenia Disorder

Like many mental health disorders, schizophrenia typically requires multiple types of treatment that include therapies, medication, and holistic support. With a multi-tiered approach, schizophrenia patients can expect to enjoy good disease management, allowing them to lead fulfilling lives. When their symptoms are in check, people with schizophrenia can function well in society. 

Schizophrenia Disorder is a common psychotic disorder that is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thoughts, speech, and behavior. It is one of the top 15 leading causes of disability worldwide, being linked with significant health, social, and economic concerns. It can be lifelong. Peak onset is between the ages of 18 and 24 years in men and between the ages of 24 and 35 years in women.

Schizoaffective Bipolar Disorder

Schizoaffective Bipolar Disorder is one of two types of Schizoaffective psychotic disorders. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and a significant mood disorder, episodes of mania and some of depression. Like any other mental illness, Schizoaffective disorder is highly individualized, so while the standard criteria must be met for a diagnosis, each person manifests those criteria differently. It can last for several months or for years. The mood symptoms are present for most of the illness, although the social dysfunction and inability to perform self-care are not as severe as they are in Schizophrenia. 

In cases where Autism Spectrum Disorder or another developmental disorder is present beginning in childhood, Schizophrenia is not diagnosed. However, a Schizoaffective Disorder can be diagnosed. Schizoaffective disorder occurs about one-third as frequently as schizophrenia. Schizoaffective disorder is among the most frequently misdiagnosed psychiatric disorders in clinical practice. The exact cause is not known for Schizoaffective Bipolar Disorder. 

Schizoaffective Depressive Type Disorder

Schizoaffective Depressive Disorder is one of two types of Schizoaffective psychotic disorders. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and of a depressive disorder—and only includes major depressive episodes. It can last several months or years and can be dangerous or life-threatening if untreated. It is common for ages 15-50 years. Schizoaffective Depressive Type Disorder occurs about one-third as frequently as schizophrenia and is among the most frequently misdiagnosed psychiatric disorders in clinical practice. The exact root cause is unknown.

Schizophrenia Substance-Induced Disorder

Substance-Induced Disorder may progress to Schizophrenia and/or exacerbate symptoms of an underlying diagnosis of Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia Substance-Induced Disorder is a disorder that is characterized by the presence of hallucinations and/or delusions related to or exacerbated by alcohol or drug use. The disorientation, hallucinations, and/or haptic hallucinations (an internal process with no basis in external stimulation) is a state in which a person’s mental capacity to recognize reality, communicate, and relate to others is impaired, thus interfering with the capacity to deal with the demands of everyday living. 

The relationship between substance use disorders and schizophrenia has long intrigued mental health researchers and clinicians. The prevalence of substance use disorders in persons with schizophrenia is significantly higher than in the general population.

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