Today's lesson, kids: What's the difference between schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia?

Quick background: I work in a medical field where I constantly have to look at the diagnoses of different "patients." When I see a diagnosis for schizoaffective disorder, my mind goes, "Hmm, isn't that just schizophrenia? Are they trying to name it something different these days?"


"Schizoaffective disorder is a
psychiatric diagnosis describing a situation where both the symptoms of
mood disorder and psychosis are present. The disorder usually begins in
early adulthood, and is more common in women.

There are two sub-types of schizoaffective disorder: the bipolar type
type and the depressive type. The bipolar type has a better prognosis
than the depressive type, which can have a residual defect with the
passing of time. Bipolar schizoaffective disorder is more similar to
bipolar disorder than schizophrenia. People with bipolar disorder may
also suffer from isolated episodes of psychotic symptoms."

The definition of schizophrenia:

"Schizophrenia is a psychiatric diagnosis
that describes a mental disorder characterized by impairments in the
perception or expression of reality and by significant social or
occupational dysfunction. A person experiencing schizophrenia is
typically characterized as demonstrating disorganized thinking, and as
experiencing delusions or hallucinations, in particular auditory
Although the disorder is primarily thought to affect cognition, it can
also contribute to chronic problems with behavior and emotion."

(Thank you, wikipedia, for summarizing details because I'm too lazy to actually look at reputable Web sites.)

It seems that with schizoaffective disorder, a person can somehow
maintain somewhat of a stable life but experiences episodes of a mood
disorder and psychosis. Schizophrenia, however, is a mental illness
that impairs cognitive function to the point where a person cannot
function normally in society.

To sum up –
Schizoaffective disorder: you can work and have social contact with random periods of illness
Schizophrenia: you can't work, social contact is impaired and the illness is consistent

Hooray! I cleared that up for myself. Now I know that schizoaffective and schizophrenia are two different diagnoses.

I should have known: the ICD-9 code for schizoaffective disorder is 295.70 and for schizophrenia it's 295.
It seems that schizoaffective is a form of schizophrenia if it's listed
under the same ICD-9 prefix (295). How scary is it that bipolar is 296?

Actually, how scary is it that I knew the ICD-9 code for bipolar disorder off the top of my head? (Click on this link if you have NO clue what I'm talking about in reference to ICD-9 codes.)

I've been working too much.

(Mood rating: 5)

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