schizoaffective disorderLet's do one more free practice question from the psychotic disorders section of the DSM. We'll forego the usual vignette style of our practice questions. Not all questions on the ASWB exam are vignettes. Sometimes, they're in a simpler form, like this:

Which of the following BEST describes the criteria for schizoaffective disorder?

A. Hallucinations or delusions for two or more weeks in the absence of a major mood episode.

B. An uninterrupted period of illness during which there is a major mood episode concurrent with psychotic symptoms.

C. Psychotic symptoms concurrent with a mood disorder not attributable to the effects of a substance.

D. Depression concurrent with depressive mood along with two weeks of hallucinations or delusions without a major mood episode.

What's your answer?

This is really a (fairly irritating) reading question as much as it is a diagnostic one. You're tasked with remembering the criteria for schizoaffective disorder and then tracking all of this twisted language. You might consider simplifying the long answers in your mind (or on your scratch pad) to something like this:

A. 2 weeks psychotic sx; no mood

B. Psychotic + mood

C. Psychotic + mood, no substance

D. Mood + psychotic & 2 weeks psychotic no mood.

When you put it that way, the answer (assuming you know what schizoaffective disorder is) jumps right out at you. Schizoaffective disorder requires psychotic symptoms along with mood symptoms and independent of mood symptoms. Psychotic symptoms with no mood is something else (e.g., schizophrenia or delusional disorder). Psychotic symptoms that occur only during a mood episode is something else again (e.g., bipolar I disorder or MDD with psychotic features).

Even if you didn't know any of that, you could rule out answer A--schizoaffective disorder is going to have something to do with affect, aka mood. On to the other answers. Answers B and C are essentially the same, with one adding the substance rule-out. But neither fully describes schizoaffective disorder. That leaves one answer, which, though perhaps imperfect,  is the best we've got. The correct answer is D!

To save you some clicking around, here are the criteria for schizoaffective disorder for your quick review:

A. An uninterrupted period of illness during which there is a major mood episode (major depressive or manic) concurrent with Criterion A of schizophrenia.

B. Delusions or hallucinations for two or more weeks in the absence of a major mood episode (depressive or manic) during the lifetime duration of the illness.

C. Symptoms that meet criteria for major mood episode are present for the majority of the total duration of the active and residual portions of the illness.

D. The disturbance is not attributable to the effects of a substance or another medical condition.

Find lots more about schizoaffective disorder here:

And for more questions about schizoaffective disorder, the DSM, and lots, lots, lots, lots more, sign up for SWTP's full-length practice tests!

Good luck on the exam!

September 30, 2016
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