The Difference Between Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia


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Psychiatrist Carol Lynn Childers, MD, works with patients at two Heartland Health Centers facilities in the Chicago area. At one Heartland facility, Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., Carol Lynn Childers, MD, works with patients who have serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders.

Although it is rare, schizophrenia is one of the most talked about serious mental illnesses. It affects roughly one percent of the population and is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, general apathy, and disorganized speech and behavior. These symptoms last at least six months, unless they are treated, and interfere with relationships, self-care, or work.

Many of these positive psychotic symptoms and negative symptoms, like social withdrawal and cognitive difficulties, are shared by another serious mental illness: schizoaffective disorder. In essence, schizoaffective disorder is a blend of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. Because of the involvement of a mood disorder, there are two categories of schizoaffective disorder: bipolar and depressive.

People with the bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder experience both depressive episodes and manic episodes alongside the psychotic symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia. Meanwhile, those with the depressive type of schizoaffective disorder only experience depressive episodes.

While some people with schizophrenia do experience these mood episodes as a response to their illness, this not the case with people who have schizoaffective disorder. Rather, those with schizoaffective disorder experience mood episodes independently of their psychosis. It is neither a response to psychotic experiences, nor a temporary result of external factors.


Opioids and Depression – A Troubling Relationship


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Mental Health

Dr. Carol Lynn Childers, a psychiatrist with a degree from McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal, has built up extensive experience in treating opioid addiction, postpartum depression, and other serious mental health conditions. Currently a consulting psychiatrist with Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and with Healthcare Alternative Systems, in Chicago, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers has focused much of her work on meeting the needs of underserved and multicultural populations.

Estimates of the number of people in the United States dealing with prescription painkiller addictions top 2 million. A broad consensus among professionals notes that depression frequently accompanies and compounds such addictions.

Depression and abuse of opioids exhibit what psychiatrists call a bidirectional connection, in that each multiplies the risk of developing the other. Some recent studies even seem to indicate that simply using prescription opioids for conditions such as headaches and backaches in itself may place patients at greater risk of developing symptoms of depression.

As reported in the Annals of Family Medicine in 2015, researchers at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine found that out of a group of more than 100,000 patients who received prescriptions for opioid medications, approximately 10,000 developed notable depression after a period of one month. The researchers were particularly concerned because no significant number of these patients had been diagnosed with depression before receiving the prescriptions.

The Saint Louis team determined that the likelihood of a new occurrence of depression grows the longer an individual continues to use opioids for pain relief.