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Schizoaffective vs. Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Their names are somewhat similar, and they share a few features, but there are also important differences between schizoaffective vs. schizotypal personality disorders. Understanding both the similarities and differences between these disorders can help you find the right treatment for yourself or a loved one.

What Are Schizoaffective and Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

Before we compare and contrast schizoaffective vs. schizotypal personality disorder, it can be helpful to take a look at the symptoms of each of these disorders, as established in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

To be accurately diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a person must have either major depressive episodes or manic episodes while simultaneously experiencing psychotic symptoms. First, here are the criteria for a major depressive or manic episode:

  • Major depressive episodes are periods of diminished energy, low mood, poor self-esteem, and minimal motivation. During these periods, a person may endure extreme sadness, disrupted sleep patterns, and dramatic changes in appetite. 
  • Manic episodes are characterized by increased energy, little to no apparent need for sleep, elevated self-confidence (to the point of grandiosity), excessive talkativeness, heightened motivation, and a propensity for impulsive behaviors. 

At the same time that a person with schizoaffective disorder is going through one of the episodes described above, they will also have at least two of the following psychotic symptoms (one of which must be one of the first three in this list):

  • Delusions: These are rigid beliefs that have no basis in reality or can be easily disproven.
  • Hallucinations: These can involve hearing, seeing, or otherwise perceiving stimuli that don’t actually exist.
  • Disorganized speech: This describes extreme difficulty expressing one’s thoughts in a logical, coherent manner.
  • Grossly disorganized behaviors: These may include dressing in a bizarre fashion, acting immaturely, or holding one’s body in strange positions.
  • Negative symptoms: These can include speaking in a monotone voice, exhibiting a lack of facial expressiveness, and expressing no interest in interacting with others.

Even when they’re not in the midst of a major depressive or manic disorder, a person with schizoaffective disorder may continue to experience hallucinations and/or delusions.

Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder

The DSM-5 reports that schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by “social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior.”

Someone who has schizotypal disorder will display at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Ideas of reference: Believing that random events are somehow directly related to them.
  • Strange beliefs or magical thinking: This can include extreme superstitiousness or a belief that they can project their thoughts or read others’ minds.
  • Unusual perceptual experiences: These are similar to hallucinations. Involving a sense that someone is nearby or speaking to them, even though neither of these events is occurring.
  • Suspiciousness or paranoia: An unrealistic belief that they or their loved ones are in danger.
  • Constricted affect: Minimal ability to appropriately express their emotions.
  • Odd, eccentric, or peculiar behavior: Acting in ways that are far outside the norms of their culture or community.
  • Lack of personal relationships: Their only trusted interactions are with close relatives.
  • Excessive social anxiety: Deep, pervasive distress, including paranoid fears, related to meeting new people or simply interacting with others.

Similarities Between Schizoaffective vs. Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Having established what these two disorders may look and feel like, we’re now ready to turn our attention. Let’s focus on the similarities between schizoaffective vs. schizotypal personality disorder.

  • Both disorders can undermine a person’s ability to live a satisfying, independent lifestyle.
  • Both disorders can impact how a person perceives their environment and interacts with others.
  • People with either schizoaffective disorder or schizotypal personality disorder will struggle to form and maintain healthy friendships.
  • The symptoms of both disorders can put a person at risk of being bullied, harassed, shunned, ostracized, or otherwise treated poorly.
  • Both schizoaffective disorder and schizotypal personality disorder may increase a person’s risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. 

Important note: If you or someone that you care about is in imminent danger of suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline immediately. You can access this resource by calling or texting 988 from any phone in the U.S. or by visiting https://988lifeline.org/

Differences Between Schizoaffective vs. Schizotypal Personality Disorder

In addition to the similarities enumerated in the previous section. There are also several key differences between schizoaffective vs. schizotypal personality disorders. Here are three such distinctions:

  • Schizoaffective disorder is classified as a psychotic disorder. Schizotypal personality disorder is included in the personality disorders section of the DSM-5.
  • The prevalence and intensity of hallucinations and delusions is much stronger among people with schizoaffective disorder. This is in contrast to those who have schizotypal personality disorder.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder appears to be a bit more common than schizoaffective disorder. Various experts estimate that 0.6%-3.9% of the general population may develop schizotypal personality disorder. The prevalence of schizoaffective disorder is not believed to exceed 0.3% of the population.
  • Symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder may begin to become evident during childhood or adolescence. Most people who have schizoaffective disorder start to experience symptoms in early adulthood.

Get Help for Schizoaffective or Schizotypal Personality Disorder in Nashville

If someone in your life has been exhibiting the signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder or schizotypal personality disorder, please know that their situation is not hopeless. With proper professional care, your loved one can learn to manage their symptoms and take greater control of their thoughts and behaviors. 

Arbor Wellness is a trusted provider of personalized care for adults who have schizoaffective disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and other complex mental health needs. At our mental health treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee, your loved one can receive customized services and comprehensive support from a team of highly skilled and truly dedicated professionals.

Treatment options at Arbor Wellness include residential care, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). We also offer detox for patients whose struggles with mental illness are accompanied by co-occurring substance use disorders.

To learn more about our tailored mental health treatment for schizoaffective disorder or to schedule a free assessment for your loved one, please visit our Admissions page or call today.