Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective Disorder refers to both a thought and mood disorder that usually reappears in a steady cycle throughout the sufferer’s life. Treatment of schizoaffective disorder can be incredibly challenging, as each person with the disorder will require a personalized means of treatment, but is not outside of the realm of possibility. Total recovery is not the goal, instead there should be a strong focus on maintaining a day to day level of stability. Close friends or family members should be directly involved in the treatment process and the doctor assigned to the patient.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

The symptoms of a schizoaffective disorder vary tremendously from person to person. A person with schizoaffective disorder usually has severe changes in mood and some of the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thinking. Both men and women with the disorder are also known to shy away or even completely avoid most social situations. Common symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (sleeping very little or a lot)
  • Agitation (excessive restlessness)
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Guilt or self-blame
  • Inability to think or concentrate
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Schizoaffective disorder is accompanied by a constant cycle of emotions and symptoms individual to the person, followed by a short period of time where the person may show improvement or sometimes absolutely no symptoms. However, do not mistake this period of time as an actual means of improvement as it is often just a pre-established part of their mental cycle.

Causes of Schizoaffective Disorder

While the exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is not known, researchers believe that genetic, biochemical and environmental factors are involved. Some researchers believe that the disorder is passed on from parents to children, whereas others believe an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain may play a part in schizophrenia and mood disorders. Other clinical evidence suggests that environmental factors such as a viral infection, poor social interactions or highly stressful situations may trigger schizoaffective disorder in people who have inherited a tendency to develop the disorder.

Treatment of Schizoaffective Disorder

When a problem is first realized, a period of hospitalization is often suggested. This is to ensure the safety of the person and to control their immediate environment in order to avoid any outside factors or influences. Prescription anti-psychotic medication is an important part of treatment, but it usually takes trial and error methodology in order to find the most useful regimen to follow. This is a very important part of treatment and the patient’s family should be closely involved with the doctor in order to avoid serious side effects and to offer accurate feedback on the regimen.

If someone close to you has been experiencing schizoaffective disorder, it may be time to suggest professional treatment in order to better combat the symptoms. Remember, it is common for a person to go in and out of these episodes and improvement should never be treated as the end of the problem. If ignored, suicidal thoughts and depression may become more prominent and treatment will become more difficult.

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