Schizoaffective disorder describes a condition that combines the symptoms of schizophrenia with the symptoms of a mood disorder. For example, someone who is diagnosed as schizoaffective may experience hallucinations and delusions like a schizophrenic but also have intense manic episodes and/or depressive episodes that someone with a mood disorder would experience
Because schizoaffective disorder is a combination of different types of symptoms, it often looks different in each patient diagnosed with the disorder. In all cases, however, treatment in a top inpatient schizoaffective disorder treatment center can go a long way to relieve the loneliness and isolation that often occur when the patient doesn’t get help.
*Types of Schizoaffective Disorder
In most cases, those diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder exhibit symptoms of one of two mood disorders:
- Bipolar disorder (bipolar type schizoaffective)
- Depression (depressive type schizoaffective)
Recognizing the Signs of Schizoaffective Disorder
Most people diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder have psychotic symptoms (e.g., paranoia, disorganized thinking, hallucinations, etc.) as well as intense mood swings. They usually spend a great deal of time alone because they don’t fit in well with others.
The symptoms of psychosis and mood disruptions may occur simultaneously or follow one another. In general, there are usually cycles of serious symptoms followed by a period of calm. The key symptom that characterizes schizoaffective disorder is experiencing psychotic symptoms for a period of at least two weeks at a time, whether or not the mood disorder issues follow or occur simultaneously.
*Risk of Suicide
Suicidal thoughts and attempts are commonly found in those diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. If your loved one has attempted suicide or you believe that he is considering following through on a plan to hurt himself, get help immediately.
Genetics May Play a Part in the Development of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders
Like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder is believed to be a distinctly genetic issue. There is no definitive cause for the disorder, but many patients living with the problem have close family members diagnosed somewhere on the schizophrenia spectrum as well. Many researchers believe that it is an issue of brain chemistry and a problem producing serotonin and dopamine while others believe that exposure to certain toxins during fetal development or birth complications may play a part in the development of schizoaffective disorder as well.
*Patients With Schizoaffective Disorder Are at Increased Risk of …
- Bipolar disorder
- Drug and alcohol abuse or addiction
Medication is often a necessary component of a comprehensive treatment program aimed at diminishing the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. The type of medication prescribed will vary depending upon whether your family member has symptoms of bipolar disorder or depression in addition to the psychosis. Paliperidone (Invega) is the only drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder, but other drugs may be helpful to mitigate the symptoms of depression, delusion, hallucinations and others.
Non-Medication Treatment Options
Medication alone will not work to treat schizoaffective disorder; therapy will be necessary as well. Personal therapy sessions, group therapy, and family therapy can all work together to help you and your loved one better understand the nature of the disorder and how to manage symptoms as they appear. It can also provide your family member with a safe place to work through the mood issues and the fears that come with living with schizoaffective disorder.