Bipolar schizoaffective disorder is a bit of a misnomer as there is no "bipolar schizoaffective disorder" as such. This term may be the result of confusion over two separate disorders: schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder but these two disorders are completely different.
There does exist, however, a schizoaffective disorder bipolar type, and that is further discussed below.
Bipolar and Schizoaffective Disorder
Bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder are actually in two separate mental illness categories.
- Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder –the primary symptoms are a disturbance in mood; in other words, inappropriate feelings given the environment.
(Extensive information on bipolar disorder, symptoms, causes, treatment)
- Schizoaffective disorder is a psychotic disorder – the primary symptoms are that of psychosis; in other words, delusions and hallucinations
While a person who suffers from bipolar disorder may experience hallucinations or delusions (psychosis) as part of a severe mood episode, most don't and this is not considered the primary problem.
Similarly, while a person with schizoaffective disorder does experience mood-related episodes, it is the psychotic components that are considered the defining factor; one of the diagnostic criteria of schizoaffective disorder being a psychosis that lasts at least two weeks while not in the presence of major mood disturbance.
Schizoaffective Disorder Bipolar Type
That being said, there is a type of schizoaffective disorder that is known as the "bipolar type." In this type of schizoaffective disorder, not only does the patient meet the diagnostic criteria for schizoaffective disorder but they also experience either:1
- Manic episodes
- Mixed episodes (manic and depressive symptoms combined)
- Manic episodes with major depressive episodes
- Mixed episodes with major depressive episodes