If you’ve been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, you will experience both mood symptoms – such as mania or depression – and schizophrenia symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations. “Schizoaffective” is a combination of the prefix “schizo-” and the adjective “-affective,” referring to the psychotic and mood symptoms, respectively.
Approximately three out of every 1,000 people in the U.S. have this chronic mental health condition.
Schizoaffective disorder means there are times when you lack insight into your own behaviors and feelings, and you struggle to look after yourself. The length of episodes varies from individual to individual. Let’s talk about the types of shizoaffective disorder, its typical symptoms, and where you can go throughout Virginia for an accurate evaluation and effective treatment by people who care about you.
Types of Schizoaffective Disorder
There are two main types of schizoaffective disorder:
- Bipolar Schizoaffective Disorder: This involves episodes of mania and occasional episodes of major depression.
- Depressive Schizoaffective Disorder: This involves only episodes of major depression (no manic episodes).
Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder
The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder differ among patients. These symptoms usually depend on the type of schizoaffective disorder you have.
The psychotic symptoms include:
- Hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing shadows, etc.)
- Inability to differentiate reality from imagination
- Lack of emotion
- Poor motivation and slow movement
- Unclear thinking and disorganized speech
The depressive symptoms include:
- Lack of energy
- Feeling worthless and hopeless
- Suicidal thoughts
- Trouble concentrating
- Poor appetite
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Weight gain or weight loss
The manic symptoms include:
- Agitation and racing thoughts
- Rapid talking and increased work, sexual, and social activities
- Inflated self-esteem
- Self-destructive behavior (e.g., reckless driving or unsafe sexual behaviors)
What Causes This Disorder?
Researchers do not fully understand the exact causes of schizoaffective disorder, but they believe that the following factors contribute to its development:
- Genetics: Researchers have found that schizoaffective disorder tends to run in families.
- Brain Chemistry: Having low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain can lead to schizoaffective disorder.
- Stress and Environmental Triggers: Stress, certain environmental triggers, and even viral infections may contribute to developing schizoaffective disorder.
- Mind-Altering Drug Use: Psychoactive drugs, such as LSD, are associated with the development of schizoaffective disorder.
How Is Schizoaffective Disorder Diagnosed and Treated?
Your healthcare provider can diagnose your behavioral health issue by evaluating your medical history and asking certain key questions. You may also be asked to have an MRI and blood tests to rule out illnesses that tend to have similar symptoms. The provider will also look for episodes of mania and depression, and symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis.
Treatment of the schizophrenia aspect of schizoaffective disorder includes taking medications such as paliperidone. Your provider may also recommend mood stabilizers, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and skills training – which focuses on personal care and social skills.
A hospital stay is warranted in a psychotic episode, especially if you have suicidal thoughts or ideations of hurting others.
Schizophrenia Treatment in Danville, Martinsville, and Richmond, VA
If you or someone you care for is suffering from symptoms similar to those of schizoaffective disorder, contact our providers at EPIC Health Partners. Our healthcare providers are highly qualified and experienced in dealing with mental health patients. We are committed to helping you live your life with confidence, power, and strength.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact our friendly staff today by calling us at (434) 835-4601 or by filling out our appointment request form online. We look forward to helping you get back to enjoying life.