Schizoaffective Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment in Florida

Updated Last June 1, 2024
Published By: Facility Staff

If you or a loved one is facing schizoaffective disorder, you’re not alone. 

Characterized as a form of psychosis, this mental health condition develops in 1 in 200 Americans at some point in their lives.

Experiencing symptoms like depression, hallucinations, mania, or issues in managing personal hygiene can make it difficult to hold down a job, attend school, or maintain relationships.

However, compassionate and comprehensive treatment is here to help you manage  schizoaffective disorder so you can live life on your terms.

Read on to learn more about schizoaffective disorder, symptoms, and the specialized treatment options we at Mark Behavioral Health provide to help you treat and manage your condition.

Quick Facts on Schizoaffective Disorder

  • Types: Bipolar disorder and depressive episodes. 
  • Number of people affected: About 1 in 200 Americans
  • Demographics: Men tend to develop schizoaffective disorder earlier than women.
  • Symptoms: Delusions, hallucinations, symptoms of depression, manic mood episodes, and impaired occupational, social, and academic functioning
  • Treatment options: Trauma-informed psychotherapies, mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, and more.

What to Know About Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a complex mental health condition characterized by a combination of symptoms from both schizophrenia and mood disorders. 

People with this mental illness may experience hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and racing thoughts as well as significant mood symptoms, such as depression or mania. 

Schizoaffective disorder disorder can affect people from all walks of life. The prevalence of schizoaffective disorder is estimated to be around 0.3% of the population.

Navigating schizoaffective disorder requires a comprehensive approach to treatment. General treatments may include a combination of antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers, and psychotherapy.

Personalized care is needed to address the specific symptoms and challenges to help each person affected by this disorder achieve long-term stability.

Types of Schizoaffective Disorders

There are two subtypes of schizoaffective disorders: the bipolar type and the depressive type. Here’s what to know about each type and how they might affect you.

Bipolar Schizoaffective Disorder 

Bipolar schizoaffective disorder combines features of schizophrenia with distinct mood episodes characteristic of bipolar disorder. 

People affected with this subtype experience episodes of mania or hypomania alongside schizophrenia symptoms. 

Manic episodes involve heightened energy, impulsivity, and an elevated mood. Hypomanic episodes are similar but less severe.

Depressive Schizoaffective Disorder

In depressive schizoaffective disorder, affected people experience schizophrenia symptoms paired with episodes of major depression. 

These depressive episodes can involve persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities.

What Causes Schizoaffective Disorders?

Schizoaffective disorders, like many mental health conditions, are complex and can be influenced by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. 

Causes of schizoaffective disorder may include:

  • Genetic factors: An existing family history of schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other mental health conditions 
  • Brain structure and neurochemistry: Imbalances in neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, and structural brain changes
  • Biological factors: Issues during brain development or prenatal exposure to certain substances, like drugs and alcohol 
  • Stressful life events: Traumatic experiences, abuse, or significant life stressors that trigger the onset or exacerbation of symptoms

Risk Factors for Schizoaffective Disorders

Risk factors for developing schizoaffective disorders can range widely. Some include:

  • Family history: Having close relatives with schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder increases the risk.
  • Age and gender: Onset typically occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood. Women often develop schizoaffective disorder later than men.
  • Substance use: Drug or alcohol misuse can increase vulnerability or trigger episodes.
  • Trauma: Childhood trauma or significant stressors may contribute to the development of schizoaffective disorders.
  • Neurological conditions: Certain neurological conditions or disorders may elevate the risk.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorders

Schizoaffective disorders encompass a range of symptoms that can significantly impact everyday life. These range from symptoms of schizophrenia, mood disorder symptoms, and more. 

Schizophrenia-related symptoms may include: 

  • Psychosis: Loss of touch with reality, making it hard for the affected person to determine what is real and what is not
  • Delusions: Fixed, false beliefs that are resistant to reasoning
  • Hallucinations: Perceptions without external stimuli, like hearing voices or seeing things that are not there
  • Disorganized thinking: Impaired thought processes, leading to difficulty in organizing thoughts or connecting ideas logically.
  • Disorganized or abnormal motor behavior: Unusual movements and unpredictable behavior
  • Negative symptoms: Reduced emotional expression, social withdrawal and lack of social skills, lack of motivation

Mood-related symptoms can include both the manic and depressive types, such as:

  • Manic bipolar type: Symptoms of mania, like elevated mood, increased energy, impulsivity, lack of sleep, racing thoughts
  • Depressive type: Depressive symptoms, like persistent sadness, major depressive episodes that last for extended periods of time, loss of interest in daily activities, changes in sleep and appetite, suicidal thoughts

Some may also suffer health problems like cognitive impairment where it is difficult to remember things or life events, maintain an attention span, or perform executive functions. This can further impact their ability to maintain personal hygiene, nutrition, or daily tasks.

Early recognition and specialized treatment can significantly improve the quality of life for those living with schizoaffective disorders. 

Be sure to connect with a mental health provider if you notice any psychotic symptoms in yourself or a loved one.

Effects of Untreated Schizoaffective Disorders

Untreated schizoaffective disorders can impact every facet of your life, extending beyond the symptoms of psychosis and schizoaffective disorders. 

Some ways that this condition can affect you if left untreated include: 

  • Strained relationships due to difficulties in communication, emotional expression, and social interaction
  • Occupational and academic challenges that hinder your ability to meet the demands of work or school, leading to job loss or academic setbacks.
  • Increased risk of substance abuse to cope with the distress caused by untreated symptoms. However, this can further exacerbate their condition.
  • Struggles in interpersonal relationships and the stigma associated with mental health conditions, contributing to social withdrawal and isolation.
  • Worsening of symptoms without proper intervention.
  • Legal and financial consequences associated with impulsivity and disorganized thinking.
  • Increased risk of self-harm or suicide that has an impact on daily functioning.

Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder at Mark Behavioral Health

Getting a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder can be overwhelming. 

Yet, being able to understand this medical condition and exploring psychiatric treatment options can help you overcome this disorder and lead a more fulfilling life. 

The best treatment options for your specific case may vary. However, here’s a breakdown of the go-to options for treating psychotic disorders like schizoaffective disorder.

Intensive Residential Treatment

Residential programs offer a structured and supportive environment, providing you with round-the-clock care for treating schizoaffective disorder. 

With this care, you can explore ways to stabilize your symptoms and enhance daily functioning to help you take back control of your life. 

Our personalized care practices at Mark Behavioral Health are fully bilingual and trauma informed, ensuring that you have a safe place to heal, treat, and manage schizoaffective disorder. 

Crisis Stabilization Services

In times of crisis, our team is equipped to provide immediate intervention and stabilization. 

We help you learn how to de-escalate a crisis by identifying and managing the acute symptoms that may have triggered it.

Crisis stabilization services equip you with the tools needed to craft a life of long-term stability so you can champion through anything that may affect you.

Behavioral Therapies

A range of therapeutic interventions are offered to help you treat schizoaffective disorders. Some include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps you identify and challenge distorted thought patterns and behaviors. With this, you can begin restructuring negative thought processes and embracing healthier behaviors for long-term transformation.

DBT is another form of talk therapy that focuses on emotional regulation, relationships, distress tolerance, and mindfulness. It helps to enhance your emotional well-being and interpersonal skills.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

Trauma can greatly impact your mental health and life experiences. This is why we offer trauma-informed therapy to emphasize safety, trust, and collaboration. 

We provide you with an inclusive therapeutic environment that helps you cultivate a feeling of security so you feel safe being an active participant in your treatment.

We help you build a foundation of interconnectedness between your mind, body, and spirit and nurture your individual strengths so you can be resilient to life stressors.

Other Specialized Mental Health & Wellness Services

Other treatment options can include medications, family therapy,  electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and nutrition support. 

Medications to treat schizoaffective disorders may include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics like paliperidone and olanzapine
  • Lithium during clinical trials as a mood stabilizer

Family therapy equips family members with the knowledge needed to support your recovery process. It focuses on improving communication, resolving issues that may contribute to your condition, providing coping strategies as a unit, and strengthening family bonds.

ECT is a safe treatment option that stabilizes your mood, especially in times of emergency or when other treatment options are ineffective.

Nutritional support also provides patients with the vitamins and minerals needed to support a healthy mind and body. Personalized based on your needs, this can also help with being more receptive to treatment. 

Top Resources for People Facing Schizoaffective Disorder

You don’t have to suffer alone from the negative symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. There are several mental health services to help you through your treatment and recovery process. 

These include:

  • Mark Behavioral Health: Mark Behavioral Health offers specialized treatment for schizoaffective disorder, including intensive residential treatment, crisis stabilization, and various therapeutic interventions, like grief and loss counseling, and psychoeducational therapy. 
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI offers valuable information, support groups, and resources for individuals and families affected by mental health conditions, including schizoaffective disorder.
  • Mental Health America (MHA): MHA provides resources, educational materials, and advocacy for mental health. Their website offers insights into schizoaffective disorder and connects individuals with support.
  • Treatment Advocacy Center: The Treatment Advocacy Center focuses on policies and practices to help individuals with severe mental illness, including schizoaffective disorder, access effective treatment.
  • Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA): SARDAA is dedicated to improving lives affected by schizophrenia and related disorders. Their resources include support groups, educational materials, and advocacy initiatives.
  • MedlinePlus – National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus offers reliable information on schizoaffective disorder, medications, and treatment options. It is a service of the National Library of Medicine.

Find Targeted Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorders in Florida

Navigating life with schizoaffective disorder can be challenging without the right care, education, and treatment. 

If you or a loved one are battling the symptoms of this condition, contact us for help when you’re ready.

We can help you get the targeted treatment needed to not only help you manage your schizoaffective disorder but also take back your life and thrive.

Find out more today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What triggers schizoaffective disorder?

The exact triggers for schizoaffective disorder are not fully understood. It is believed to result from a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. 

Stressful life events may contribute, but there is no single identifiable trigger.

How is schizoaffective disorder different from schizophrenia?

While schizoaffective disorder shares symptoms with schizophrenia, it also involves mood disturbances. 

People with schizoaffective disorder experience episodes of mood disorders, like major depressive or manic episodes, alongside psychotic symptoms, distinguishing it from schizophrenia.

Is schizoaffective disorder hard to treat?

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder can be challenging due to the complexity of symptoms. 

However, with a comprehensive approach involving medication, therapy, and support, many individuals can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.

Can someone with schizoaffective disorder live independently?

With proper treatment and support, many people with schizoaffective disorder can achieve a level of independence.

 A tailored treatment plan and a supportive environment play crucial roles.

How is schizoaffective disorder diagnosed?

The diagnostic criteria for schizoaffective disorder involves a thorough psychiatric evaluation, including a discussion of symptoms, medical history, and possibly family history.

Criteria from diagnostic manuals, such as the DSM-5, are used to determine if you meet the criteria for schizoaffective disorder.

How serious is schizoaffective disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires ongoing management. 

The severity of symptoms can vary, and some individuals may lead relatively normal lives with treatment, while others may face more significant challenges. 

Early intervention and consistent treatment are crucial for long-term stability and symptom management.

Further Reading

  1. Mental Health Disorders
  2. Anxiety Disorders
  3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  4. Bipolar Disorders
  5. Depressive Disorders
  6. Panic Disorders
  7. Schizophrenia

Sources

American Psychiatric Association. “What is Schizophrenia?” Retrieved from:
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/schizophrenia/what-is-schizophrenia
Department of Veterans Affairs. “Facts About Schizoaffective Disorder.“ Retrieved from:
https://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn22/Schizoaffective_Disorder_Veteran_and_Family_Handout.pdf
Mayo Clinic. “Schizoaffective Disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizoaffective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20354504
National Library of Medicine. “Schizoaffective Disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541012/