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Are there "high functioning" schizoaffectives?


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"high functioning" for lack of better word

it seems like schizoaffective is rare and these people are often very "disabled" (for lack of better word) individuals. i have seen such individuals in support groups, they seem to have problems with thinking and speech, which suggests to me that their psychosis is almost unending (you can be psychotic and still not be a danger to yourself or others) i don't mean to suggest that they're stupid, but its very hard to listen in those situations. on the other hand i have seen people with dx schizoaffective who seem very high functioning and i wonder have these people been misdiagnosed. i see many people online who have been diagnosed with this supposedly rare disorder. as my doctors try to figure out the correct dx for me a tentative dx is schizoaffective bipolar type despite my being high functioning. now i don't agree but only because of what my other therapist said "iv worked extensively with schizoaffectives and you don't fit the profile" (which explains the aforementioned) am i off the mark in suggesting that people with schizoaffective are almost always low functioning? please understand i don't mean to suggest "stupid" and that i don't mean to offend anyone here as its a possible dx for me as well, i guess i just don't understand the label very well or the history behind it.

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Guest Vapourware

There are schizoaffectives of all walks of life, and therefore there are individuals who are high functioning, as well as low functioning. I wouldn't use what you see from support groups as indicative of how schizoaffectives present, because if people need support groups, then they are usually needing more help and therefore it wouldn't be a far stretch to say that their functioning is impaired. Whereas people who are functioning well wouldn't need support groups as much because they are doing alright for themselves.

I guess the main point is, you can't make generalisations just based on a narrow slice of the schizoaffective population.

If I may, I'll present myself as an example of a high-functioning schizoaffective. I am studying full-time for a Masters in Social Work and before my studying commenced three weeks ago, I was working full-time.

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I'm also high functioning, I guess you could say. I take care of myself and hold down a full time job and all that stuff. I agree with Vapourware in that there are all types of schizoaffectives, what you see in a support group is just a narrow representation.

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Just like Vapourware said, the Schizoaffective's in the support groups are obviously not doing so well so they're needing support, and high functioning Schizoeffective's are doing fine so they don't need the extra support. There are definitely high functioning types out there, CB is a great example.

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There are schizoaffectives of all walks of life, and therefore there are individuals who are high functioning, as well as low functioning. I wouldn't use what you see from support groups as indicative of how schizoaffectives present, because if people need support groups, then they are usually needing more help and therefore it wouldn't be a far stretch to say that their functioning is impaired. Whereas people who are functioning well wouldn't need support groups as much because they are doing alright for themselves.

I guess the main point is, you can't make generalisations just based on a narrow slice of the schizoaffective population.

If I may, I'll present myself as an example of a high-functioning schizoaffective. I am studying full-time for a Masters in Social Work and before my studying commenced three weeks ago, I was working full-time.

with respect, this doesn't really address my perceptions as it relates to my psychologist's observations. i didn't understand him when he said "trust me iv worked extensively and you don't fit the profile" (coming from 30+ years of experience) until i saw such individuals in support groups. and one of them happened to be a facilitator who said he was living and functioning fairly well with schizoaffective, despite the difficulty speaking and social difficulties. 'm not saying i dont have issues like that. i too have difficulty processing and organizing my thoughts, and i have issues with stilted speech (apparently my psychologist mistaked this for asperger's, because my new therapist put forth the dx of schizoaffective to my current doctor) i also have those moments where I "blank" or "space out" (as my doctor said I tend to "slip in and out of reality") or times when things seem strange or unreal. but with schizoaffectives the psychosis seems fairly intense, and not just something related to an episode one happens to be dealing with. or am i wrong - please explain

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Guest Vapourware

Well, to be honest I'm a bit confused by your post. If your psychologist doesn't think you fit the profile for schizoaffective, then why is he putting it forward as a hypothesis?

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For me, I am between medium functioning and high functioning for schizoaffective. While I am not able to hold down a job, I still do help out with my brother's company. When I am doing well I am able to speak at autism conferences (I am autistic as well) in front of hundreds of people. A long time ago I was not able to do that at all. I would freak and not be able to speak. Some people think I am perfectly normal when they first meet me. Its when they get to know me that they notice the problems. My friends have mental disorders and seem fine to me. One of them is schizoaffective. He is in a group home but has a great sense of humor, is very sweet and kind towards others, and speaks coherently. There are times that I get so bad that I can't even form a sentence properly, it comes out as gibberish. I have posted things in the past on this forum sadly. In the end my functioning levels vary greatly. There are times I can't sleep as well. My warning sign that my functioning level will deteriorate is the sleeping pattern. I get less and less sleep until I basically get around an hour a night for days on end even while not manic. Then comes the symptoms. I am on a lot of medicine including sleeping pills and that sometimes doesn't knock me out during these episodes, nothing would help. I just don't sleep. For the fitting the profile of schizoaffective I hardly fit as well, in fact I barely fit the profile of autism as well. When I was younger, there was no doubt that I was autistic. In fact, moderately autistic not the mild Asperger's Syndrome. Now like I said before I seem normal except under stressful situations. For the schizoaffective disorder I rarely hear voices for example. I get "loud" thoughts from outside sources. I do get some visual hallucinations though which is rare in schizoaffective disorder. Most of the time my speech is perfectly normal but as mentioned before it varies as well. When I am in an episode I get incoherent, while not in an episode I am rated as high as the keynote speaker at one of the autism conferences I spoke at. That much of a difference which I bet is rare but I have no clue on how much this kind of thing can vary. With me its extremes. Either I am perfect in everything or horribly disabled and can't function and have to be in the hospital. Not a group home though. I live with my family even though I am old... ancient. I take my pills everyday and that is how people should be but the problem with psychotic disorders is sometimes people lack insight. They believe they don't need the medicine because they truly believe their delusions and hallucinations are real. I believe my beliefs but I still take my pills. I really don't want to though because of the horrible side effects such as making me fat and 686890559 pounds and break scales. I don't like the way I look. I used to be absolutely beautiful and many people said the same thing during my high school years. I had some problems in high school and middle school (mainly middle school). College was my most stable time in MY ENTIRE LIFE except for the last year. Thank God that I was a perfectionist to myself in school and never let the depression and anxiety hurt my grades. I would lose sleep over tests like anyone else but make sure that I got nothing less than 100% on tests. If it was less I called myself a total failure.That is my experience with this kind of thing.

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Well, to be honest I'm a bit confused by your post. If your psychologist doesn't think you fit the profile for schizoaffective, then why is he putting it forward as a hypothesis?

sorry, my former psychologist said that after I had asked him about potential dx. my current therapist is the one suggesting schizoaffective as a potential dx. does it matter that my former therapist is a phd and my current is not. maybe not.

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Guest Vapourware

It doesn't matter if they are PhD or not as long as they are licensed and are helpful to you. So why is schizoaffective being raised as a potential dx?

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my former therapist viewed the way i presented myself as more autism like with a mood disorder, the other sees it more along the lines of schizoaffective (what iv mentioned previously). i don't think treatment is more or less the same in this case, it seems like schizoaffective would involve more intensive treatment. sorry, i'm not sure if this answers the question..

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Guest Vapourware

I'm more wondering about what exact symptoms that you present which has lead to your tdoc suggesting schizoaffective, which may help in answering your question. You've probably posted them in various places at various times but it'll be easier if you post them here, rather than me going out to search for them. Treatment for autism vs schizoaffective is different because they are obviously different issues.

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lets see.. she said that my affect doesn't reflect the severity of the situations i describe.she writes a lot of stuff down as i'm talking, like "hmm, tangential thinking, hmm, disorganized speech, hmm" two of those do apply to me, sorta.. i tend to wander off in tangents when talking about something but eventually get back to the point and i have long pauses between a question and my response. my speech tends to be verbose (as my last therapist said, i sometimes talk "like a walking computer"). i make no eye contact when talking but have no problem with it when someone is speaking. i talk about ideas related to ideas of reference (e.g. thoughts should be secondary to intuition and feeling, i talked abotu this before but iv discarded the idea cause it didn't resonate with anyone) an occasional feeling that things don't seem real to me or seem strange. iv written about hospitalizations, one where i had a manic episode after taking a therapeutic dose of a stimulant, or those with episodes of what seemed in retrospect like delirium. iv done a lot of writing for all the therapists/doctors to take in and work with.. anyhow that's about all i can think of right now. i may edit this post. edit: i also space out quite a bit in between those responses to questions. it probably looks like i'm occasionally not really thinking about anything at all.

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I'm not very high functioning. I don't drive. I work through the human service dept. I go to some groups there. I have a case management team. I never finished college after SZA symptoms hit me. I am on disability and have been for two years (I'm only 27 now). Currently at a crisis bed. I'm not too dumb though. I don't think I am anyways. I have gotten dumber though I can tell that much. I have felt my brain rot. It's not a good experience. It's turning black from all the meds and psychosis and mood swings/episodes. I do get that blank stare/pause thing that you talk about when I am trying to talk. I wish I could tell a story clearly but I tend to stare off into space so to speak while trying to tell it so that my point never gets across. It's frustrating. I feel really stupid then., I wish my head was a little clearer and that the paranoia would lessen a bit. The mood swings are really hitting me hard lately too. I hope this new med change works.

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Guest Vapourware

@Nullchamber: Those issues don't really sound like schizoaffective to me as well, because they could stem from other issues. Going off on tangents and intermittent eye contact don't really mean much, to be honest. Lots of people do that and aren't MI, for instance. Although I don't know how much it impacts on you so maybe it could be due to some schizo symptoms.

Personally I have more problems with the positive symptoms of schizoaffective and the mood issues and recently needed a med increase to deal with them, I'm lucky enough that the speech and thought issues don't impact on me.

@llama: Hope your meds work out as well.

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I don't know what level schizoaffective I am for sure, but I gather I'd be told that I'm high functioning, because while I may not be doing everything independently, I have the capacity to learn and to do so.

When I was younger, before my symptoms "took over" so to speak, I was able to better manage my money, I had a part time job, and I was doing stuff around the house, I was driving (and enjoying it.).

Now, I've become more reliant on mom doing things for me, I don't have a job, and I don't have the independence I had years ago.

I do go to a day program 3 days a week where I am groups such as "Job Club", "Clerical Unit", "Shop Smart", "Drama Group", "Managing Stress", "Interpersonal Skills for Young Adults", "Cooking", and whatever other groups I can't think of to help with my symptoms and to help me become more independent and move on in life.

I may not be where I was years ago, but I know I have the capacity to get back there. :)

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