Schizoaffective disorder is a serious psychiatric condition that is similar to schizophrenia and mood disorders. However, it is less common than both of them. People who have the condition can experience delusions and hallucinations, as people with schizophrenia do. In addition to that, they can also experience depression or mania, which is characterized by periods of high energy, arousal, or hyperactivity.
The Mayo Clinic advises that there are two kinds of schizoaffective disorder and that both involve some symptoms of schizophrenia. It writes, “They are bipolar type, which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression [, and] depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, schizoaffective disorder usually starts in people who are between the ages of 16 and 30, and it seems that it occurs more in women than in men.
Healthline writes that the causes of schizoaffective disorder are not fully understood. There are several theories about what causes the disorder. Some say a person’s genetics and environment are factors, while others point to chemical imbalances in the brain.
Schizoaffective Disorder: What are the Signs, Symptoms?
A formal diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder should come from a licensed mental health professional. They can rule out other possible causes of the symptoms a person is experiencing. They also will know how to go about performing a diagnosis, comparing the information they have to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM-V) to determine if schizoaffective disorder is present.
Common symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are:
- Paranoia, paranoid thoughts
- Catatonia (the inability to move around normally)
- Disorganized speech, trouble verbally communicating
- Unorganized behaviors, thoughts
- Concentration, focus difficulties
- Changes in appetite
- Poor hygiene habits
- Sleep disturbances (e.g., insomnia)
- Social isolation
- Suicidal thoughts
Finding Help for Schizoaffective Disorder in Florida
A person with schizoaffective disorder is encouraged to get professional treatment for it as soon as possible. The condition can worsen if left untreated, and those who struggle to manage the symptoms of the condition may find it difficult to keep a job, create and build relationships, or take care of themselves.
Schizoaffective requires continued treatment and support, the Mayo Clinic says. People with the disorder are encouraged to learn as much about their condition as possible. Education has several benefits, including:
- Helping patients stay focused on their treatment plan
- Learning to recognize the warning signs and creating a strategy to deal with them when they happen
Support is very important for people who have schizoaffective disorders. Family, friends, colleagues, and others can help their loved ones by learning about the condition and the unique needs of someone with the disorder.
If a person needs additional support, they should consider joining a group that helps people make living with schizoaffective disorder manageable. Look for active groups in your area that can help. Virtual communities may also be able to help.
Personalized Programs are Ideal for Treatment
If you are looking for a Florida facility to treat the condition, make sure it uses a personalized approach to treatment. Before entering a therapeutic program, a facility should conduct an assessment to learn more about the person who needs help. It should evaluate factors such as:
- History of symptoms
- Personal medical history
- Family history of mental and physical health
- Physical diagnostic examinations
- Personal and family history of substance use
- Other examinations to assess the condition of mental health, cognitive health
Further tests could be recommended, and brain imaging tests and blood exams may be used to rule out other causes for symptoms.
Depending on the person and the severity of their symptoms, they may be prescribed medications for their symptoms. A widely used approach to treating schizoaffective disorder combines medicines along with psychotherapy, life skills training, and additional hospital care if needed to help the person recover.
Antipsychotic medications, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers can be prescribed to help people with schizoaffective disorders manage their hallucinations, delusions, and other disturbances. Mood stabilizers help people manage their highs and lows, while antidepressants can help them manage concentration challenges and feelings of sadness.
Medications alone will not help a person with schizoaffective disorder, so this is one reason why psychotherapy is also recommended for this condition. Psychotherapies help patients take a closer look at their disorder and gain more information about how they can use certain tools, strategies, and approaches to managing their condition every day.
Schizoaffective disorder patients may use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help them develop a plan they can follow for symptoms that they cannot manage with medication. CBT helps people recognize disordered thinking and gives them tools they can use to understand those thoughts and address them in a healthy manner.
Life Skills Training
Life skills training can get patients with schizoaffective disorder back on track with relearning the things they need to bring structure to their lives and help them function normally. They can receive guidance with relearning social skills, healthy hygiene routines, and caring for themselves in ways that promote health and a sense of well-being.
Schizoaffective Disorder and Co-Occurring Disorders
Getting professional treatment for schizoaffective disorder can also help a person treat their condition without developing another, such as a substance use disorder or addiction.
People with mental health disorders often misuse or abuse substances to self-medicate against disturbances they have. Some do this knowingly, while others have no idea, as they have not been properly or formally diagnosed with their condition.
It is common for people to use drugs and alcohol if they have symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, which mirrors those who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. One of the dangers of self-medicating with addictive substances is that it puts the person at risk of developing an addiction.
Leaving an addiction untreated along with schizoaffective disorder can also put a person at risk of declining physical and mental health. If a person decides to quit abusing substances suddenly and then goes back to doing so because they can’t deal with the withdrawal symptoms, they can overdose, and in some cases, such overdoses are fatal.
People use various mind-altering and mood-altering substances when they are dealing with both co-occurring disorders. Marijuana, alcohol, cocaine, psychedelics, and other drugs are commonly used, and all can worsen someone’s symptoms. Alcohol and marijuana can act as depressants, slowing down activity in the central nervous system, while cocaine and other stimulants speed up the body, giving people more energy. It is also possible for substances to bring on substance use disorders.
Florida treatment for schizoaffective disorder should offer programs specifically designed for people who are dealing with substance abuse issues along with a mental health disorder. This kind of program will address both conditions at the same time, which is important for the person seeking to obtain maximum benefits from a recovery program.
The physical part of an addiction is one area to address. Dual diagnosis treatment will help the patient address both.
Other Co-Occurring Disorders that Happen with Schizoaffective Disorder
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares that people with schizoaffective disorder can also have other mental health conditions that require them to get dual diagnosis treatment. These include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A mental health disorder that develops after a person has experienced a traumatic or disturbing event
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A cognitive disorder that results in difficulty in excessive activity and impulsivity or problems with paying attention
- Anxiety disorders: Disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, that result from excessive worry or fear
As mentioned earlier, getting an official diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional is important. A formal diagnosis after testing can rule out other causes for a person’s condition and behavior. A professional opinion can also identify other conditions that need to be addressed as well to ensure the person gets the appropriate help they need.
Vista Pines Health Can Treat Schizoaffective Disorder
If you or someone you know needs clinical treatment for schizoaffective disorder, we can help. Vista Pines Health, located in Pembroke Pines, Florida, is a full-service mental health treatment facility, and our professionals use a client-first approach to treating mental health disorders.
We have a 20-bed facility, and each room offers comfort and privacy to help patients get the rest they need and focus on getting better. We offer personalized treatment plans, putting our patients’ needs first. Our low client-to-staff ratio ensures you get the individualized attention you need. You are not just another number here.
We are there for everyone who walks through our doors, ensuring that they get the help they need to recover from their condition and manage it and their lives effectively.
We invite you to give us a call today to see how we can help you or your loved one with mental health disorder treatment. Each client matters to us, and we know we can work with you to help you live the life you have always wanted for yourself.