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Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment in South Florida

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Schizophrenia is one of the top 20 causes of disability worldwide, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). New treatment guidelines from the APA suggest that “patients with schizophrenia have a documented, comprehensive, and person-centered treatment plan that includes evidence-based non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments.”

Schizoaffective disorder is defined as a chronic mental condition characterized mainly by schizophrenia symptoms, including delusions or hallucinations. It is often paired with mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.

The prefix “schizo” relates to the psychotic effects of schizophrenia that might affect an individual’s self-awareness, thinking, and perceptions. The suffix “affective” relates to the extreme mood fluctuations, changes in energy, and changes in behavior that an individual experiences with schizoaffective disorder.

The treatment for schizoaffective disorder is a multipronged approach that treats the individual wholly and symptomatically. Learn more about his mental health disorder and what treatment options are available in the South Florida area.

What Is Schizoaffective Disorder?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes that schizophrenia affects about 1.5 million people in the United States annually.

It involves symptoms that can vary from one person to another. Individuals with this disorder might experience delusions or hallucinations and mood disorder symptoms. These symptoms could be either bipolar-like, which are episodes of mania and depression, or of a depressive type that entails episodes of depression.

Signs and Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

There are specific signs or symptoms to be aware of. There are definite features for this disorder, including a major mood episode (manic or depressed) and a two-week period of psychotic symptoms when the major mood episode is not present, as noted by the Mayo Clinic.

Schizoaffective disorder signs or symptoms depend on the type, depressive or bipolar, and might include:

  • Delusions: Having fixed, false beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary
  • Hallucinations: Hearing voices or seeing things that are not present
  • Impaired communication or speech: Being or sounding incoherent
  • Unusual or bizarre behavior
  • Depression symptoms like feeling sad, worthless or empty
  • Manic mood periods: These entail increased energy and a decreased need for sleep for several days and include out of character behaviors
  • Impaired social, occupational, and academic functioning
  • Poor personal care, which includes lack of cleanliness and poor physical appearance

Causes for Schizoaffective Disorder

It is still unknown what specifically causes schizoaffective disorder. It may stem from a combination of environmental and genetic factors, which might increase the possibility of developing the disorder. Schizoaffective disorder sometimes is inherited. However, even if a relative may have schizoaffective disorder, it does not mean their children will have it also. The odds are increased, though.

It is also thought that schizoaffective disorder might entail a combination of risk factors that could affect prenatal brain development and brain development through childhood and adolescence. These include:

  • Genetics
  • Viral infections, including those while in the womb
  • Birth defects
  • Brain chemistry and structure
  • Life stressors (death in family, end of marriage, loss of job)
  • Psychoactive or psychotropic drug use—licit, such as lithium (for bipolar disorder) or illicit (LSD)

How Is Schizoaffective Disorder Diagnosed?

An individual with schizoaffective disorder should present the following symptoms of one of the two disorder types associated with schizoaffective disorder: bipolar or depressive.

  • Severe mood disorder that occurs simultaneously as symptoms of schizophrenia (either depression or mania)
  • Hallucinations and delusions that occur for at least two weeks in the absence of a major mood episode
  • Symptoms that meet the criteria for a major mood episode are present for most of the illness’s total duration.
  • Symptoms are not caused by side effects or drugs.

Co-occurring Disorders and Schizoaffective Disorder

Co-occurring disorders can heighten and complicate schizoaffective disorder symptoms and cause an individual to not follow their treatment plan or take medication.

When a person is diagnosed with two disorders, such as schizoaffective disorder and a substance use disorder, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a correct diagnosis is vital because combined treatment is crucial to managing and living with a dual diagnosis.

Co-occurring substance use disorders are a fairly common and serious risk for people with schizoaffective disorder. Individuals with these two disorders need the combined treatment options and therapy provided by mental health treatment centers, like Vista Pines Health.

schizoaffective-disorder-treatment-in-south-florida

Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment in South Florida

Schizoaffective disorder can be managed well with adjusted medication and psychotherapy. A combination of mental health treatment therapies is the most effective approach to treating this mental illness disorder. Each client is unique and has their own set of needs. Schizoaffective disorder is managed in several ways:

Medications: Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are among the medications that are used to treat people with the disorder.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and small-group therapy, can help individuals with this disorder learn how to cope and manage their symptoms, and smaller therapy sessions may help people feel less isolated.

Life skills training: Life skills are taught to help people improve their quality of life. Individuals will also work on communication skills, how to interact with people at home, work, or school, and other social settings. Life skills are also beneficial in preparing for, obtaining, and maintaining employment.

Schizoaffective disorder treatment is crucial for the individual living with it, as it can keep them emotionally balanced and prevent suicide, which is a real risk.

Schizoaffective Disorder in South Florida

Treatment in South Florida is readily available for individuals who have schizoaffective disorder. Vista Pines Health is a mental health treatment center located in western Broward County in the city of Pembroke Pines. The center’s clients are treated with respect and dignity and warmly welcomed. They are never treated as just a number. The staff is certified and experienced mental health professionals with decades of practice in helping those with schizoaffective disorder.

Vista Pines Health admits clients from Florida and from around the country who have various mental health illnesses and disorders. The center is spacious, which allows for privacy when someone needs it. A low client-to-staff ratio means more attention is given to each client.

Schizoaffective Disorder Is Treatable

Some people might think they can diagnose schizoaffective disorder by themselves just from observing or experiencing certain symptoms. However, this is not wise, as it can lead to an incorrect diagnosis and treatment. The best option is to have a qualified mental health professional in an outpatient center, like Vista Pines Health, work with the person to identify and diagnose schizoaffective disorder.

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic disorder and a treatable disorder. There are affordable options to pay for treatment from insurance by the Affordable Care Act to making payment plans with the center. There are also small medical loans to explore if more funds are needed than one has in hand. Publically funded programs Medicare and Medicaid, private insurance, employer-backed insurance, and employee assistance programs can also be good resources to inquire when mental health treatment is needed for schizoaffective disorder.

Sources

American Psychiatric Association. (2020, September 1) APA Releases New Practice Guideline on Treatment of Patients with Schizophrenia. from https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/apa-releases-new-practice-guideline-on-treatment-of-patients-with-schizophrenia

Verywell Mind. (2020, November 18) What Is Schizoaffective Disorder? Cunic, A. from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-schizoaffective-disorder-4171702

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021 March) Mental Health by the Numbers. You Are Not Alone. from https://www.nami.org/mhstats

Mayo Clinic. (2019, November 9) Schizoaffective disorder. from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizoaffective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354504

MoneyGeek.com. (2020, July 14) How to Access and Afford Mental Health Treatment During the Coronavirus. How to Pay for Mental Health Treatment or Therapy. from https://www.moneygeek.com/insurance/health/afford-access-mental-health-care/

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