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Schizoaffective Disorders

Schizoaffective disorder although a distinct disorder can be thought of as a combination of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. It begins in adolescence and can develop into schizophrenia if left untreated. While using illicit drugs or alcohol may temporarily relieve the disorders symptoms, the likelihood of addiction grows and complicates the therapeutic modalities needed. With proper medication and dual diagnosis treatment both the disorder and the addiction can be successfully managed.

If you are suffering from a debilitating mental health disorder and you have been using drugs and alcohol to cope, we can help you. Call 866-812-8231 now and speak with one of our coordinators. You do not have to continue to suffer, to feel different, or to isolate, you can be helped. Dual diagnosis treatment does work. Calls are confidential and our helpline is open 24/7.

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health condition that can interfere with healthy, normal functioning. It is a condition that alters a person’s sense of reality and creates dysfunction. Schizoaffective disorder is different than schizophrenia and is less common. It tends to affect more women than men, and it is rarely diagnosed in children. The causes for this disorder are not known and there is dispute concerning classification in the DSM IV- TR, the diagnostic manual that classifies psychiatric disorders.

The manifestation of the disorder can begin as early as adolescence. The diagnosis is based upon an uninterrupted period of time in which the person experiences generally a major mood episode, such as depression (usually experience by women) then a short period of normality, quickly followed by a hypo-manic episode. The person suffering from schizoaffective disorder can fluctuate back and forth through these episodes and transitions repeatedly.

During transition periods the patient is likely to experience delusions and or hallucinations. Mood disorders are a significant aspect of the schizoaffective disorder. Delusions and hallucinations will come and go compared with schizophrenia in which the patient suffers from chronic symptoms. While the evidence remains empirical, as specific studies about schizoaffective disorder and genetics are minimal, therapeutic reports indicate a relationship between family histories and mental health disorders. Of course, environmental, biological, psychosocial factors also contribute to the development of mental health problems.

It is not unusual for people who suffer from mental health disorders whether mood disorders such as depression or schizoaffective disorder to self-medicate in an attempt to modify or eliminate the disorder’s symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

People suffering from schizoaffective disorder will experience the symptoms differently. The complexity of the disorder includes a variety of symptoms including changes in mood, ability to function, or abnormal thoughts. If people suffering from schizoaffective disorder do not clearly articulate all their symptoms, proper diagnosis can be delayed or impossible.

The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can include:

  • Changes in appetite and energy
  • Disorganized speech that is not logical
  • False beliefs (delusions), such as thinking someone is trying to harm you (paranoia) or thinking that special messages are hidden in common places (delusions of reference)
  • Lack of concern with hygiene or grooming (little to no bathing)
  • Mood that is either elevated,  depressed or irritable
  • Problems sleeping
  • Problems with concentration
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Social isolation
  • Speaking so quickly that others cannot interrupt you
    (source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001927/)
  • Less insight into the disorder’s symptoms
  • Delusions and hallucinations come and go
  • Increased risk of suicide often due to delusions (“I can’t be killed by a car crossing the street”)
  • Poor occupational functioning (school or work)

With the appropriate dual diagnosis treatment that addresses mental health disorders medication management and addiction education, the patient has the foundation to successfully handle both disorders.

Schizoaffective Disorder and Addiction

A person can suffer from schizoaffective symptoms that are induced by drugs and alcohol, medical conditions such as brain tumor, or he or she may actually have the disorder. In cases where drugs and alcohol are the underlying cause of the symptoms, the symptoms will disappear once the drugs have been removed from the body and the brain functions have been stabilized.

Other times, people suffer from schizoaffective disorder and are afraid to tell someone about “hearing voices” or feelings of strangeness or different than others. Symptoms  can begin in adolescence, although it is not easily diagnosed during adolescence. This sense of being other than and different can cause a teen to begin to use drugs because of peer pressure. A period of drug and alcohol experimentation may follow until the patient finds a drug that provides a sense of balance and normality to life. Because the relief is tangible, the drug use or alcohol use continues.

Cocaine may allow a young woman who suffers from depression unable to get out of her room the ability to suddenly leave the house. The young man, who finds it impossible to stay calm, discovers that opiates can take the edge off and he can stay still and focus better. His behavior is now manageable and he can more easily socialize.

Sadly, addiction develops and the drugs and alcohol stop working. Not only has the mental health disorder gone untreated but addiction has been added to the problem. The young woman suffering from severe depression who found relief with cocaine suddenly has a serious cocaine problem.

Typically an intervention will occur, whether it is legal or familial, that will send the addict to addiction treatment. If he or she is at a good drug rehab facility, an accurate diagnosis will be made and an appropriate treatment plan will be developed that includes dual diagnosis treatment in combination with medication management and addiction treatment.

Don’t struggle alone with your mental health disorder and substance abuse. Recovery Connection can facilitate you path into appropriate treatment. Call 866-812-8231 now and find out how easy getting help can be.

Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder in Addiction Rehab

Research has demonstrated for many years now, that the occurrence of a mental health disorder combined with drug or alcohol addiction requires specialized treatment in addiction rehab. Sadly, people are often misdiagnosed as having one condition or the other with the connection between the mental health disorder and the addiction completely missed.

When someone suffers from a mental health disorder, such a schizoaffective disorder, combined with addiction, the appropriateness of the diagnosis is a key factor in treatment. Often, drug induced psychosis is mistaken for a mental health problem or a mental health problem is mistaken for a drug induced psychosis. If both conditions are not diagnosed and treated simultaneously, then chances of returning to health long term are greatly reduced.

Not all treatment facilities have the medical staff or the expertise to handle people who are dually diagnosed. That creates a “catch 22” scenario as treatment must address both problems or the person will experience both a relapse in drug or alcohol abuse and the mental health symptoms can worsen.

A quality addiction rehab facility that offers a true dual diagnosis program will have medical staff, as well as psychiatrist and psychiatric nurses, and therapists certified in addiction medicine with an expertise in mental health issues. A multidisciplinary team will do a physiological and psychosocial evaluation to create a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan that will address all issues relating to stabilization and recovery.

Key components of a dual diagnosed program include:

  • 24 hour medical staff including psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses
  • Individualized treatment plans
  • Medication management
  • Daily evaluations
  • Addiction education
  • Lifeskills workshop
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Family Therapy
  • Dual diagnosis education
  • Relapse prevention
  • Nutrition and exercise counseling
  • Aftercare Plan

Looking For Treatment?

If you or someone you know is suffering from a mental health disorder with an addiction, then a quality dual diagnosis treatment program is needed. Not all substance abuse treatment facilities can offer a true dual diagnosed treatment program. Recovery Connection can help you find the right program for your needs. Call now at 866-812-8231 and let one of our coordinators point you in the right direction. You can regain control of your life, manage your mental health disorder and live a happy, productive life without drugs or alcohol.

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