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The symptoms of the schizophrenia spectrum disorders fall into two broad categories: positive and negative. Positive symptoms are abnormal thoughts, perceptions and behaviors that most individuals do not normally experience. These include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and grossly disorganized behavior.

Schizophrenia is characterized by the presences of two or more psychotic symptoms, each present for a significant portion of time during a one month period. For a significant portion of the time since the onset of the disturbance the individual’s level of functioning in one or more major area, such as work, interpersonal relations, or self-care is noticeably below normal. Continuous signs of the disturbance must persist for at least six months.

Schizoaffective Disorder is characterized by the symptoms of schizophrenia as well as a major mood episode. There are two subtypes of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar and depressive. The essential feature of the bipolar subtype is the presence of a manic episode during the illness, while the depressive subtype is characterized by the presence of a major depressive episode. Schizoaffective disorder is the highest and most severe end of the schizophrenia spectrum.

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