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Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment

Schizoaffective disorder is a combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. It’s a psychotic disorder that features other mental health conditions such as major depression or bipolar disorder. Patients with schizoaffective disorder may also have other depressive types of conditions.

This complex mental illness affects an estimated one in 100 people. Half are women. Two-thirds of them are under 50 years of age. Because of the overlapping symptoms, proper diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is crucial. It can be disabling for the individual. The symptoms can be a double whammy. An individual suffers from personality disorder symptoms and other mental health disorders. The patient may not have the awareness to know what is happening. This is due to symptoms of schizophrenia.

Diagnostic Criteria

Schizoaffective disorder requires proper testing. A diagnosis can also be reached when a person has hallucinations or delusions for at least two weeks. This is the case even in the absence of mood disorder symptoms or a depressive episode.

The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder vary from person to person. Some patients with schizoaffective disorder have everything happen at once. They have mood symptoms and psychosis at the same time. More often, people experience mood episodes and psychotic symptoms at different times. The symptoms can be continuous and severe. Then the person has a period of improved outlook. It is a mental health condition that must be treated under supervision.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

Individuals with this mental illness may experience a range of issues. They can be mild to severe. Common schizoaffective disorder symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Lack of concern about hygiene
  • Depressive symptoms, such as hopelessness and guilt
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depressed mood

Aspects of bipolar disorder also may be present such as:

  • Increased energy
  • Distractibility
  • Fast speech
  • Impulsivity
  • Reduced sleep
  • Other symptoms of mania

Finding the Right Diagnosis

Mental health professionals must make a careful diagnosis. They have to confirm if a person is suffering from schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Overlapping depressive disorders and schizophrenia symptoms make it difficult to detect. Schizoaffective disorder is sometimes misdiagnosed in people with:

Drugs and medications can also complicate the situation. People who use certain drugs are especially vulnerable to misdiagnosis. Cocaine, PCP and amphetamines have symptoms that resemble this disorder.

Prescription medication can mimic schizoaffective symptoms as well. Steroid medications may have symptoms that resemble schizoaffective disorder. Seizure disorders drugs can have an impact too.

Certain conditions may confuse the diagnosis. But some may turn into a dual diagnosis. Bipolar disorder can be a co-occurring condition. Substance abuse is also common in people with schizoaffective disorder.

Causes of Schizoaffective Disorder

The causes of schizoaffective disorder are unknown. Researchers believe the following may play a role:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors
  • Brain chemistry
  • Exposure to toxins or illness
  • Birth complications
  • Imbalance of brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin

Treating Schizoaffective Disorder – What to Expect

The treatment team at Promises knows how to help. With treatment of schizoaffective disorder, quality of life can improve.

Medication and counseling are the core elements of treatment for schizoaffective disorder. Depending on the individual’s symptoms, doctors may prescribe antipsychotics. They also may give mood stabilizers or antidepressants to manage symptoms.

There are many types of schizoaffective disorder treatments. Treatment programs include testing for different mental disorders. This enables the team to select the most effective treatments. The treatment plan may include:

  • Antipsychotic medication as needed
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Social skills development
  • Coping skills training

Family counseling, support groups and psychotherapy help combat isolation. They also improve relationships and normalize negative thought patterns. Clients build essential social and independent living skills. Schizoaffective disorder often occurs along with substance abuse. People use drugs and alcohol to manage their symptoms. We provide integrated treatment for these co-occurring disorders.

Reach Out for Help Today

It’s time for improved mental health. Call our recovery advisors today to learn how we can help you or a loved one. We provide compassionate, evidence-based mental health treatment. We help with mental health disorders by looking at underlying issues. Our treatment team can help you manage symptoms so you can live a fulfilling life. Call today.

To learn more about Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment, call 844-876-5568

Posted on July 21, 2017 and modified on April 13, 2019

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