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Schitzoaffective diagnosis under DSM-IV & diagnosis acceptance.


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So I was diagnosed schitzoaffective under DSM-IV criteria when I was 19 (for reference, I was diagnosed at 15 with BP-I URC), and have always had really mixed feelings about the diagnosis. As I'm sure has been reported here before DSM-5 criteria for schitzoaffective has changed, and the reliability of DSM-IV criteria has been brought into question.

 

Several years away from my dx now, I'm beginning to more or less accept the schitzoaffective whereas before I straight up denied it for years. I'm beginning to understand more the nature of how the disorder affects me, after not even previously recognizing the symptoms as symptoms of anything, but I'm still wondering if my dx was valid at the time. I was seeing a really shady pdoc at the time (luckily my tdoc at the time was amazing and very helpful and kept me stable) and for a long time I felt like she had misdiagnosed me, preventing me from accepting the dx.

 

So, open thread more or less-- how long did it take you to accept your dx? Do you have any thoughts on the DSM-IV criticisms/DSM-5 changes?

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I was in denial of my diagnosis of SZA for a long time.  I was ok with being bipolar, but didn't tell anyone (not even pdoc) about hearing voices until years after starting to see him ... which eventually led to the SZA diagnosis.  I didn't like the "label" which was why I was in denial for so long.

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I am not sure where they would put me. I have predominantly psychotic symptoms, not mood. I had a pdoc doubt I have been manic. I don't think I would fit in schizophrenia. I had a late onset, 39, and I respond to mood stabilizers.

 

I took the dx okay because it fit better than bipolar did.

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I'm confused about my diagnosis. At first I was diagnosed with depression but that changed to bipolar when I had a manic episode (looking back I'd had quite a few manic episodes before being diagnosed) they also thought at one stage that I had schizophrenia, then they said borderline personality disorder which makes no sense whatsoever because I don't fit the criteria, then it was bipolar with psychosis except the psychosis is present with or without the moods and now they're talking about brief psychotic disorder which also doesn't make sense because it hasn't been brief and the disorder is reactive meaning an episode can come on due to a stressful event but nothing has ever happened to me and my episodes can come at any time. I know labels aren't important but for peace of mind I'd like to know why these things are happening.

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I'm torn between clinging to the diagnosis because treatment thanks to said diagnosis has helped and rejecting the diagnosis because accepting it means I have been psychotic and delusional, which I do not accept.

 

The depression side, though, I've had a major depressive disorder diagnosis for the past four years (well, until I was rediagnosed with SZA), and lived with it for years before that. I'm used to it.

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It's really interesting reading everyone's responses to this, it seems like a lot of us have had similar experiences with struggling to accept or understand the SZA. There's a lot of confounding information out there about it, making it a difficult diagnosis to understand from a layman's perspective, I feel like. Especially now that the criteria has changed, the predicted trajectory information needs to be studied again. Does anyone have any good resources recommendations (books, preferably) on SZA? I haven't been able to find any on my own that I found appealing enough to commit to, but I'd really appreciate any suggestions for things I may have overlooked.

 

I'm trying to see a pdoc soon for diagnosis confirmation on everything I've been diagnosed with since high school since some of them are misdiagnosed for certain and I want to be able to give my GP a clearer picture of what's going on. If this new pdoc turns out alright and confirms the SZA diagnosis, maybe I'll finally be able to accept it better, rather than always having that doubt. Who knows, though. I just feel this huge amount of fear and dread whenever I think about SZA.

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I knew I was bipolar. But I had no idea it would lead to SZA. Schizophrenia is a huge fear to patients and the public, but it shouldn't be,unfortunately, there's stigma. It sounds like its the worst thing that can happen to you. It's not. It can be managed.

 

When I was dx'd as being schizoaffective I just thought "this pdoc thinks I'm NUTSO!" but he always has treated me fairly and with great care. It's a scary diagnosis, but it can be managed.

 

Sometimes I'm in denial about the psychosis.. that's hard. The insight tells me its real, but its hard to believe.

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For me it's not so much the stigma against schizophrenic disorders that causes the fear. My mom works in mental health, I studied psych/neuro and my, best friend from hs has schizophrenia, so I was lucky and got a lot of re-education against a lot of MI stigma, but you're completely right that there is this huge misconception about it, even among healthcare providers. My fear is more about just about how much the SZA just makes me feel so limited in life, and part of that is definitely my fear of the stigma that comes with MI.

 

It might also just be the timing of the diagnosis-- I got my BP diagnosis when I was in high school and thought I was invincible, so it was a lot easier to cope with and learn how to manage around; when I got my SZA diagnosis I was completely drained from psychosis and was living in fear all the time, constantly on the verge of panic attacks because of the fear I was experiencing. 

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