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Saturday 01 December 2001

[Schizoaffective disorder: clinical symptoms and present-day approach to treatment]

By: Danileviciute V.

Medicina (Kaunas) 2002;38(11):1057-65

During 20th century serious mental disorders were divided into two groups according symptomatology and course of disorder. Individuals with dominating disturbance of perception, thinking and cognition were basically diagnosed having schizophrenic. Individuals with mood disturbance were basically diagnosed having affective disorders. However, there were patients who did not fit neatly into either category. In 1933 Jocob Kasanin introduced the term "schizoaffective psychosis". Scientific discussions involved the possibility that schizoaffective disorder was conceptualized most accurately as following: a type of schizophrenia, a type of affective disorder, a unique disorder that was separate from both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, an arbitrary categorization of clinical symptoms that marked a continuum between schizophrenia and affective illness, a heterogeneous collection of "interforms" between schizophrenia and affective disorders. However, diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is included both in DSM-IV-TR and ICD-10. Schizoaffective disorder is listed in the category "schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders". The differential diagnosis includes basically either schizophrenia or affective disorder. The epidemiological status of schizoaffective disorder is somewhat uncertain compared with schizophrenia because of dilemmas related to diagnosis and classification of the disorder. Treatment of schizoaffective disorder comprises psychotropic medication, supportive psychotherapy, social care, rehabilitation. The most important groups of psychotropic medications are: antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilizers. Atypical antipsychotics are the first-line medication for schizoaffective disorder due to their pharmacological properties. In the case of schizoaffective disorders combination of atypical antipsychotics with antidepressants seems to be useful. Novel antidepressants have priority for the combination mentioned above. Peculiarities of mechanism of action of antidepressant are important for combinations. Mood stabilizers seem to be useful for treatment of certain type of schizoaffective disorder as well.

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