How is schizophrenia differentiated from bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness)?

Updated: Mar 16, 2018
  • Author: Frances R Frankenburg, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

Schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder (manic-depressive illness) may be difficult to distinguish from each other. Patients with manic-depressive illness predominantly have disturbances in their affect or mood. Psychotic symptoms may be prominent during a mania or depression.

In classic manic-depressive illness, the psychotic symptoms are congruent with mania or depression, and the person has periods of euthymia (normal mood) with no psychotic symptoms between the episodes. However, some patients have periods of psychotic symptoms in the absence of depression or mania. In these cases, schizoaffective disorder is diagnosed.


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