Schizoaffective Disorder and Atypical Depression

People with schizoaffective disorder, like those with bipolar disorder, may experience depression differently from people who have unipolar depression. It is common for people with schizoaffective disorder to experience atypical depression, which means that instead of experiencing insomnia, loss of appetite and being sad and tearful, which are common with typical depression, people feel the need to eat and sleep more and tend to feel very flat and slowed down when they are depressed. Other hallmarks of atypical depression are fatigue and being sensitive to rejection.

Not being able to feel
A lot of people with schizoaffective disorder experience what they describe as an absence of feeling as part of depressive episodes. This is sometimes also described as feeling flat or empty.

Not caring about anything
People suffering from depression often state that they are unable to care about anything, even things that used to be important to them.

Losing interest and motivation
People with schizoaffective disorder frequently experience a loss of interest in, and motivation to do, things. The things that they used to enjoy don’t give them pleasure any more.

Feeling tired and drained of energy
It is common for people experiencing an episode of depression to feel tired all the time. Some people have described this as feeling as though they have just run a marathon and have no energy left.

Feeling worse at particular times of the day
People experiencing an episode of depression may find that they feel worse at particular times of the day. For some people, mornings are worse, whilst for others it is during the evening that they feel worse.

Feeling worthless
People with schizoaffective disorder who are depressed often suffer from feelings of worthlessness. Their self-esteem drops considerably, leaving them lacking in confidence and feeling as though they are useless. Depression can make people forget about their strengths and make them only focus on their weaknesses.

Feeling guilty
Guilt is a very common problem for people experiencing an episode of depression. People tend to feel excessive guilt for minor mistakes and normal human errors.

Becoming more sensitive
When people are depressed they tend to become much more sensitive to both criticism and rejection.

Irritability
It is common for people experiencing depressive or mixed episodes to become much more irritable than usual.

Feeling hopeless and helpless
It is very common for people experiencing depression to feel extremely hopeless about the future and helpless because of feeling unable to change the way they feel.

Feeling worried and anxious
Worry and anxiety are common features of depression. Anxiety can be very disabling for some people. It can be ‘global’, where everything is a worry, or specific, where anxiety is focused on certain things, for example physical health.

Feeling lethargic
Lethargy, feeling tired, slowed down and unmotivated, is a common symptom for people experiencing episodes of depression. Lethargy can make people talk much slower than usual, use shorter sentences and move around more slowly. In severe forms, lethargy can make it difficult for people to get things done – or even to get out of bed.

Withdrawal and avoidance
It is common for people suffering from depression to withdraw from the things that they used to enjoy doing. They may also start to avoid social situations and turn down invitations from friends.

Thinking negatively Everyone can think negatively from time to time, but depression has the potential to make people think negatively all the time, or the majority of time. Rumination about past failings is also common in depression.

Sluggish thoughts
One of the hallmarks of depression is the way that people feel as though their head is full of fog. This causes them to have difficulty remembering things or concentrating on things a lot of the time. It can also make decision making and planning very difficult.”

Sources: Schizoaffective Disorder Simplified by Martine Daniel

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