Schizoaffective disorder represents the DSM's attempt to describe a disorder characterized by both the psychotic thought problems of schizophrenia, and the mood problems of depression or bipolar disorder. It may be diagnosed when the following conditions are met: 1) Psychotic symptoms sufficient for the diagnosis of schizophrenia are present, and 2) One or more major depressive episodes, manic episodes, or mixed mood episode occur. Though even a residual symptom presentation will generally qualify for this disorder, there do need to be active hallucinations or delusions present for at least two weeks in a row.
Doctors differ on whether it is better to diagnose schizoaffective disorder, or to diagnose a bipolar or major depression disorder and schizophrenia separately. No definitive answer as to which practice is better can be determined at this time, because it is not known for sure at this time if schizoaffective disorder describes a single disease entity or not.
The following diagnostic criteria must be met before a diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder is warranted, according to the DSM-IV-TR:
A) An uninterrupted period of illness during which, at some time, there is either a Major Depressive Episode, a Manic Episode, or a Mixed Episode concurrent with symptoms that meet Criterion A for Schizophrenia. Note: the Major Depressive Episode must include Criterion A1: depressed mood.
B) During the same period of illness, there have been delusions or hallucinations for at least 2 weeks in the absence of prominent mood symptoms
C) Symptoms that meet criteria for a mood episode are present for a substantial portion of the total duration of the active and residual periods of the illness
D) The disturbance is not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition