What is schizoaffective disorder?
A schizoaffective disorder is a malfunction in the brain that mangles the way a person thinks, acts, emotes, and understands their relationship to the world. Schizoaffective disorders are a lifelong malfunction that can cripple a person’s ability to function. Fortunately, proper treatment can remove some of the psychotic breaks that such human beings experience intermittently. Some examples of psychosis are expressed as hallucinations, delusions, and depraved thinking. Psychoses is largely evidenced by a loss of appetite, depression, weight gain or loss, unusual patterns during the night, such as excessive sleeping and or restlessness. Sometimes patients might even contemplate taking their lives when consultations with their doctors are not followed on a normal basis. Unfortunately, science has yet to come up with a full cure.
Known causes of Schizoaffective Disorder
What are the causes of this deadly illness? Science has proven that genetics plays an important part in transmitting this disease from parent to child. Brain chemistry also is known to create episodes of schizophrenic brain damage. People with schizophrenia and mood imbalances have abnormalities in the functioning of its circuits resulting in disassociating mood and delusions. Often, factors of a person’s childhood and even adulthood can play an important part. Theories suggest that certain environmental factors — such as lack of hygienic conditions, little or no interaction and dangerous situations will trigger the disorder to appear. However, the connection between biological and environmental causes are not well reported in scientific journals. In general, the core symptom of psychosis — hallucinations are associated with a negative outlook, failure and a foreboding that their illness will make them incapacitated.
Can you control the symptoms of Schizoaffective disorder?
Yes. While there is no cure for schizoaffective disorder, symptoms can often be controlled with proper treatment. Clinicians indicate that treatment for schizoaffective disorder includes medication with psychosocial intervention.
Diagnosing a Schizoaffective Disorder
A schizoaffective diagnosis can be properly made when all of the following are evident in patients. A schizoaffective disorder is characterized by chronic psychotic features(auditory or visual hallucinations, disorganized speech and/or behavior, limited facial expression of emotions, diminished motivation) associated with schizophrenia and mood symptoms such as depression and mania. The prognosis is better when compared to schizophrenia but worse than a mood disorder by itself. Substance abuse is often associated with schizoaffective disorder.
As the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder has negative connotations in society, people with this illness are afraid of their symptoms. This behavior may lead them to hide their illness from doctors making it even more difficult to effectively diagnose and treat the disorder. A schizoaffective disorder is characterized by the presence of a psychotic illness plus mood episodes. Mood episodes can include either one or both of the following: Major depressive episode which include depressed mood and a manic episode that are present for the majority of the duration of the illness.
Diagnostic criteria for Schizoaffective Disorder
The diagnostic criteria for a schizoaffective illness criteria closely resembles a schizophrenia diagnosis. In addition, doctors will require at least two of the following symptoms to be present in patients for at least one month. These are delusions, hallucinations, guttural speech and catatonic behavior. Schizophrenics may describe these symptoms openly or a psychiatrist may deduce they are likely present in their patients based on observations of a person’s demeanor and conduct.
Additionally, for a person to be diagnosed as having a schizoaffective disorder, he or she must meet the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual, is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions. DSM criteria for the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder include: A mood disorder, major depression or mania along with schizophrenia. Delusions or hallucinations that take place for at least two weeks, even when mood disorder symptoms are under control.
How common is Schizoaffective Disorder?
This disorder is a severe mental illness that affects between 2 and 5 people out of every 1,000 people. Its symptoms are more common in women and usually begin in early adulthood. Children, however, have proven to be rare carriers of this illness.
Tests and diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorders
When doctors suspect someone has schizoaffective disorder symptoms, arrangements are made to carry out a schizoaffective disorder test. The doctors ask for medical and psychiatric histories. They will also conduct a physical exam and run medical and psychological tests, such as blood tests, drug screening and imaging studies. These studies include a lab test called a complete blood count (CBC) and screening for alcohol and other drugs. The doctor may also need imaging studies, such as an MRI or CT scan.
A psychological evaluation is also necessary in patients with schizoaffective disorders. People with schizoaffective disorder bipolar type have some common symptoms. A full psychiatric evaluation requires these recognizable symptoms to be present. Signs of a bipolar schizoaffective disorder may include, among others: Delusions such as having false or fixed beliefs. Hallucinations, such as hearing voices in their head. A schizoaffective disorder must demonstrate major depressed mood episodes. A few known periods of manic mood or sudden increase in energy and behavioral displays that are out of character combined with impaired occupational and social functioning are indicators. Further, problems with appearance, unclean habits, paranoid thoughts and ideations are also common indicators of a schizoaffective disorder.
What is an effective schizoaffective disorder treatment?
Listed here are some medications used to treat schizoaffective disorder. Early treatment with medication, along with healthy functioning often improves outcomes and extends the life of the individual. Currently there are two types of schizoaffective disorders, the depressive and the manic type. In the depressive type of a schizoaffective person, combinations of antidepressants namely sertraline or fluoxetine along with an antipsychotic such as haloperidol, risperidone, olanzapine, aripiprazole, or ziprasidone and clozapine are used. In the manic type, mood stabilizers such as lithium, carbamazepine and valproic acid along with an antipsychotic are used. The choice and dosage of medication needs to be individualized and should be conducted by physicians and mental health professionals who are trained and experienced in treating chronic mental illness such as a schizoaffective disorder.
What are the risk factors for suicide in patients suffering from schizoaffective symptoms?
Among people diagnosed with the illness an estimated 20% to 40% attempt suicide. From 5% to 13% actually complete the act of suicide. Compared to the general population, people with a schizoaffective disorder have a more than eight-fold increased risk of suicide. They also have an increased risk of death from natural causes.
Suicide prevention can be difficult because people with schizophrenia and bipolar diagnoses can sometimes act impulsively and take their lives without the knowledge of their care givers. Thus, it is essential that health care workers, family members, and friends be aware of the risk factors for suicide. People with a schizoaffective disorder are more likely to commit suicide if they are young, male, white, and never married. People are at an increased risk of developing this illness if they have already developed depression. A history of alcohol abuse and former suicide attempts are also signs of patients who are at a greater risk for suicide. Medical research has conclusively determined that there are some key aspects to suicidal patients that are the same. Most victims of suicides are males under age 30, that have high IQ and are achievers.
Other risks factors for suicide include hopelessness, isolation, deteriorating health, instability, diminished aptitude for self care, increased dependence or rejection of treatment and isolating behavior. Suicide can also be linked to other chronic illness, a prior history of suicide in the family, extended bouts of depression, substance abuse, impulsive conduct, and a desperate painful awareness of the illnesses effect on the mental state of victims. While there is no full cure for people with the illness, science has made great strides in understanding and treating schizoaffective disorder.