Schizoaffective disorder: What is it?
- It is a mental disorder characterized by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms (hallucinations/delusions) and mood disorder symptoms (depression or mania)
Types of Schizoaffective disorder:
- Bipolar type– episodes of mania and sometimes major depression
- Depressive type– only major depressive episodes
- can vary from person to person
- impaired communication (i.e. only partially answering questions)
- impaired occupational, academic and social functioning
- problems managing personal care, including cleanliness and physical appearance
- psychotic symptoms (hallucinations and/or delusions)
- delusions- having false, fixed beliefs, despite evidence otherwise
- hallucinations- hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there
- mood disorder symptoms (mania and/or depression)
- depression- feeling empty, sad, or worthless
- mania- sudden increase in energy with behavior that is out of character
- usually features cycles of severe symptoms followed by periods of improvement with less severe symptoms
- The cause is not known. A combination of factors may be to blame, such as genetics and variations in brain chemistry and structure.
- Having a close blood relative with schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder
- stressful events that trigger symptoms
- taking mind-altering (psychoactive or psychotropic) drugs
- Untreated, this disorder can lead to problems functioning at work, school and in social situations (i.e. holding a job).
- May require assistance with daily functioning
- Treatment can manage symptoms and improve quality of life
- Increased risk of:
- suicide, suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts
- social isolation
- family/interpersonal conflicts
- anxiety disorders
- alcohol/substance abuse problems
- significant health problems
- poverty and homelessness
- The diagnosis involves ruling out other mental health disorders and symptoms due to substance abuse, medication or another medical condition.
- May include:
- physical exam
- tests and screenings (i.e. screening for alcohol and drugs)
- psychiatric evaluation
- Combination of medications, psychotherapy and life skills training
- Antipsychotics: to help manage psychotic symptoms
- Mood-stabilizing meds: to help with bipolar type (level out manic highs and depressive lows)
- Antidepressants- help with depressive type (feelings of sadness/hopelessness, difficulty with sleep, and concentration)
- Individual therapy: may help normalize thought patterns and reduce symptoms; can help to better understand condition and manage symptoms; focuses on plans, problems and relationships
- Family/group therapy: discussing problems with others; decreases social isolation and provides reality check during psychosis
- Life Skills Training:
- Social skills training: improves communication and social interactions, the ability to participate in daily activities. Includes the practice of new skills and behaviors specific to settings i.e. home, workplace.
- Vocational rehabilitation and supported employment: focuses on helpiung people prepare for and find/keep jobs.
- varies depending on type and severity of symptoms
- hospitalization may be required (to ensure safety, proper nutrition, adequete sleep, and basic personal care/cleanliness)
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT):
- for adults with the disorder who do not respond to psychotherapy or medications, ECT may be considered