Brian Wilson health: what is Beach Boys frontman’s illness schizoaffective disorder - as documentary released

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A new cinema documentary called Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road, which looks at the life of The Beach Boys star Brian Wilson, has just hit cinemas.

The documentary film will look at the life of The Beach Boys co-founder, including his struggle with schizoaffective disorder.

But what is schizoaffective disorder?

Here’s what you need to know.

What is schizoaffective disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition where symptoms of both psychotic and mood disorders are present together during one episode or within a two week period of each other.

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Mental health charity Mind explains that the word schizoaffective has two parts:

  • ‘schizo–‘ refers to psychotic symptoms
  • ‘–affective’ refers to mood symptoms

There is more than one type of schizoaffective disorder, including

  • Manic type - in this type you have both psychotic and manic symptoms occurring within one episode
  • Depressive type - in this type you have both psychotic and depressive symptoms occurring at the same time during an episode
  • Mixed type - in this type you have psychotic symptoms with both manic and depressive symptoms. However, the psychotic symptoms are independent and not necessarily related to the bipolar disorder symptoms.

What are the symptoms of Schizoaffective disorder?

There are two main types of symptoms which occur with schizoaffective disorder. These are:

  • psychotic symptoms
  • mood symptoms.

Both sets of symptoms must be present within a two week period of each other for a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder to be made.

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Psychotic symptoms

These are experiences similar to those experienced in schizophrenia, including:

  • Hallucinations - where you may experience things that others around you don’t. For example hearing voices, seeing visual hallucinations and other unexplained sensations
  • Delusions - where you might hold strong beliefs that other people don’t share. For example, a fear that you are being followed, your thoughts are being read, you are very powerful and able to influence things outside of your control, or that you have special insight or divine experiences

In general, you may feel:

  • your thoughts becoming very disorientated
  • very confused or frightened
  • angry
  • depressed
  • excited and elated.

Mood symptoms

The mood symptoms are similar to those experienced in bipolar disorder and include both manic and depressive symptoms.

  • Manic symptoms - can include feeling uncontrollably excited or enthusiastic about something, making plans that are quite unrealistic, or risk-taking behaviour.
  • Depressive symptoms - where you might feel a range of things, including feeling sad and lonely, wanting to sleep a great deal, like you can’t relate to other people, or suicidal
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