Those with schizoaffective disorder may or may not show all the classical symptoms associated with schizophrenia.
- Behavioral changes or signs of schizoaffective disorder differ among people.
- Though the onset and course of the disorder can vary, a severe mood episode, such as depressed or manic mood, and psychotic symptoms that last for a minimum of two weeks are defining markers of schizoaffective disorder.
Additionally, the person may experience hallucinations, where they see or hear things that are not real or present. They tend to be delusional with fixed beliefs that are incorrect, and they persist despite an opposing reality. Thinking is disorganized, a person may go from one issue to the next quickly or give replies that are utterly unconnected or unrelated.
When a person is diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder with depressive type, they will suffer from melancholy, emptiness, and feelings of unimportance, which make them behave differently.
They have symptoms of mania. In people who have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, feelings of euphoria, rapid thoughts, increased dangerous behavior, and other manic symptoms are commonly observed.
What are the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia?
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health condition marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms (hallucinations or delusions) with mood disorder symptoms (depression or mania).
Schizophrenia is marked by active episodes and periods of remission and may include symptoms such as:
- Disorganized speech
- Trouble thinking
- Lack of motivation
How is schizoaffective disorder managed?
Visiting a psychiatrist will help diagnose and treat the condition properly. A combination of medications, psychotherapy, life skills training and brief hospitalization may be needed on a case-to-case basis.
Individual or family or group therapy helps normalize thought patterns and reduce symptoms.
Supportive group settings can help:
- Reduce social isolation
- Provide a reality check during periods of psychosis
- Increase appropriate use of medications
- Develop better social skills
The therapy aims at professional rehabilitation and seeking jobs, which help with mood swings and provide emotional stability.
Hospitalization may be necessary to ensure safety, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and basic personal care in the case where the person has stopped taking food or is severely depressed or hallucinating.
Electroconvulsive therapy may be administered in refractive cases where the person does not respond to any of the other treatment modalities.
What medication is used to treat schizoaffective disorder?
Medications relieve psychotic symptoms, stabilize mood, and treat depression.
The medications used to treat schizoaffective disorder may include:
- Antipsychotics. Invega (paliperidone) is the only medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manage delusions and hallucinations.
- Mood-stabilizing medications. When the schizoaffective disorder is bipolar type, mood stabilizers can help level out the mania highs and depressing lows.
- Antidepressants. When depression is the underlying mood disorder, antidepressants can help manage feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or difficulty with sleep and concentration.
8 long-term consequences of untreated schizoaffective disorder
The long-term complications of schizoaffective disorder include:
- Poverty and unemployment
- Suicide, suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts
- Family and interpersonal conflicts
- Anxiety and depression
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Harm to self and loved ones
- Poverty and homelessness
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Frankenburg FR. Schizophrenia. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/288259-overview
National Institutes of Health. Schizophrenia. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia
Mayo Clinic. Schizoaffective disorder. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizoaffective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354504
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