What Is Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental health condition. It has features of two different disorders:
- Schizo means the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. This brain disorder changes how a person thinks, acts and expresses emotions. It also affects how someone perceives reality and relates to others.
- Affective refers to a mood disorder, or severe changes in a persons mood, energy and behavior.
Theres no cure for schizoaffective disorder. But treatment can help people manage symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Full Recovery From Schizophrenia
This is the first of a series of blog postings related to my own series of research studies of people who have made full and lasting medication-free recoveries after being diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. This is very exciting research because it is one of the few areas within psychological research that remains almost completely wide open. One reason it is so wide open is that most Westerners donât believe that genuine recovery from schizophrenia and other related psychotic disorders is possible, in spite of significant evidence to the contrary. Since there are some very hopeful findings that have emerged within this research, I want to begin this series of postings by summing up one particularly hopeful aspect of my own research, which is a group of five factors that emerged which are considered to have been the most important factors in my participantsâ recovery process. But before looking closer at these factors, we should back up for a minute
This takes us to Factor #2: Arriving at an understanding of their psychosis alternative to the brain disease theory. Every participant went through a process of developing a more hopeful understanding of their psychotic experiences, generally coming to see their psychosis as a natural though very risky and haphazard process initiated by their psyche in an attempt to cope and/or heal from a way of being in the world that was simply no longer sustainable for them.
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I have been in treatment for over twenty years. The first few years of my treatment, I fought the idea of being mentally ill, and I went on and off my medications. Going on and off medication left me in a state of frequent psychosis that would come and go. Including my initial hospitalization, I was in psych wards a total of three times during this period. On two occasions I signed myself in and once I was committed after an attempted suicide. Not taking my diagnosis and treatment seriously put me dangerously close to losing my life. I have followed the advice of doctors for approximately nineteen years now, and I take my treatment very seriously. I look at taking my medications as a life saver a regimen that has saved my life and increased the quality of my life significantly.
Medications have side effects, though, and to try to manage the adverse effects of the medicine I take, I try to keep up a healthy diet and participate in physical activities. Occasionally, my weight will creep up for a couple of years, and then I will get back on track, and lose the excess pounds. It is a form of maintenance that I am not perfect at, but I keep trying.
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How Is Schizoaffective Disorder Diagnosed
If someone is showing symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder, see a healthcare provider. The provider will do a medical history and physical examination. There are no lab tests to diagnose schizoaffective disorder. But the provider may use X-rays and blood tests to rule out other illnesses that may be causing the symptoms.
If there is no physical cause for the symptoms, the provider may refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions tied to mental and behavioral health.
What About Remission Or Functional Recovery From Schizophrenia
Like some other types of mental illness, schizophrenia symptoms can sometimes wax and wane throughout a persons life. An individual may have an intense schizophrenic episode and go for months or years with little or no issue related to the disease. In most cases, however, even people receiving effective and consistent treatment must contend with at least some consequences of the disease.
But with a combination of medications, psychosocial therapy, and lifestyle adjustments, functional recovery and functional well-being are realistic goals for people with schizophrenia. Though an exact picture of what functional recovery looks like is still somewhat debated among clinicians, a survey of mental health experts reported in BMC Psychiatry suggests that functional recovery involves concepts such as:
- quality of life
- symptom management or remission
- maintaining social relationships
The goal of functional recovery is not just that serious symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions are held in check, but that an individual can live, work, and have positive family relationships and friendships, as well as live independently or with minimal assistance.
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What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis.
You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service
You can find out more about:
Can Schizoaffective Disorder Go Away On Its Own
Unfortunately, those who are diagnosed with the disorder must seek early intervention and comprehensive treatment to deal with their diagnosis. Schizoaffective disorder will not go away on its own, but the prognosis is much better than other psychotic disorders.
The treatment options are effective at minimizing the symptoms someone will experience. The critical foundation for a positive recovery is through sustained clinical treatment, which commonly includes medicine as well as psychotherapy.
Recovery success will vary from one person to another, and its not possible to predict someones rehabilitation success. While some can manage their symptoms with treatment and return to a somewhat ordinary course of life, others can manage their symptoms but will not return to a standard lifestyle. Others, however, will continue to struggle to manage symptoms, even with support and treatment.
The earlier someone gets treatment for schizoaffective disorder, the better chance they will have of minimizing psychological damage. Early intervention, however, will help avoid distress and fallout from the problematic combination of psychotic and mood symptoms.
Written by: Christopher Schumacher
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Family And Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum
Yes, I personally met and interviewed two people in Guayaquil Ecuador who have been cured of schizophrenia and live normal lives, with minimal to no antipsychotic drugs. I am including the interviews in a documentary film I am producing A Life Worth Living – Schizophrenia Alternative Treatment to be published at the end of this year. The 32-year-old man had catatonic schizophrenia when he was 21and had to drop out of college where he was studying electrical engineering. He was so rigid that his mother had to feed him with a spoon. He had the BEAM procedure done four years ago. Two months after the surgery on the adrenal medulla glands, he told his mother, Mommy I feel normal now. and he returned to the university. He is in his third year of studying Informatics. He said it took about three years to restore his normal life it was little by little.
The 47 year old woman was told early in her illness that she would need to be institutionalized for the rest of her life. She had the BEAM done when she was 40. She said that she felt born again and that her life really began at 40. She now wants to attend medical school and become a doctor. She already has a degree in psychology that she managed to get while having schizophrenia.
Thank you for your research. We must find alternatives . I am sure that no therapy will work 100% for every patient. But if it frees even one person from this terror its worth it.
Has Anyone Here Been Cured Of Schizophrenia And How Did You Do It
I have had a form of mild schizophrenia for years. Sometimes it goes away, which is great, and I feel pretty good. I have found meditation and spirituality can help me, as well as vitamins. But what works for you guys? Have you found any way to really cure yourself of this thing? I know it is possible-plenty of people have got over this. If you are one then please tell me how. Thanks, Will
Have you found any way to really cure yourself of this thing?
I dont really think there is a flat out cure but I do consider myself in remission. Sort of like cancer the cells are in there, but they arent acting up right now. If all goes well, they wont act up for a while. My SZ brain is still in there. I cant get rid of my brain. So I have to learn how to work with it.
I have been more stable and functional with staying med compliant and definitely staying sober and clean. No more street drugs or pot or any of that for me anymore. Just started year six of sobriety and no major drugs.
I keep going to my therapist so I can get a handle on any negative, destructive, or delusional thinking. I go to my support group so I get some new ideas. I come here so I get some new ideas.
I also have an ace up my sleeve I have a very supportive and caring family who has stood by me and learned all they could to help me out the best way they can. Never underestimate the power of a friend on your side.
I would like to next cut down on my caffeine.
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Responses To Thirty Years Later: Still Cured Of Paranoid Schizophrenia
You presented a wonderful story of the recovery process but I would be veryhesitant to say that you cured her. Instead you seem to have provided anatmosphere or environment which allowed her brain and other biological systemsas well as her psychological state to settle down so she could put herself backtogether. That is called a healing process. You were but one aspect, albeit itsounds like an important one, of her journey. She did a load of work herself.Only a few surgeries and some antibiotics can claim cure in the medical sense.Courtenay
Different Views On Psychosis
You may feel that a mental health crisis linked to your psychosis is part of a spiritual crisis. It may have encouraged spiritual growth. You may find support from others who share your views helpful. For example, within faith communities.
Some people feel that their mental health crisis has been positive and has caused growth in their personal lives.
You may believe that psychosis can be caused by a deeper psychological distress, which can be worked through. For example, if you feel as though your life is being controlled by outside forces, this might come from feelings of lack of control in your life.
You can find more information about Spirituality, religion and mental illness by clicking here.
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Tip : Get Involved In Treatment And Self
The earlier you catch schizophrenia and begin treatment with an experienced mental health professional, the better your chances of getting and staying well. So, if you suspect you or a loved one is exhibiting schizophrenia symptoms, seek help right away.
Successful schizophrenia treatment depends on a combination of factors. Medication alone is not enough. Its important to also educate yourself about the illness, communicate with your doctors and therapists, build a strong support system, take self-help measures, and stick to your treatment plan. Pursuing self-help strategies such as changing your diet, relieving stress, and seeking social support may not seem like effective tools to manage such a challenging disorder as schizophrenia, but they can have a profound effect on the frequency and severity of symptoms, improve the way you feel, and increase your self-esteem. And the more you help yourself, the less hopeless and helpless youll feel, and the more likely your doctor will be able to reduce your medication.
While schizophrenia treatment should be individualized to your specific needs, you should always have a voice in the treatment process and your needs and concerns should be respected. Treatment works best when you, your family, and your medical team all work together.
People Recover From Schizophrenia
Over the course of months or years, about 20 to 25 percent of people with schizophrenia recover completely
The popular and professional view that schizophrenia has a progressive, downhill course with universally poor outcome is a myth. Over the course of months or years, about 20 to 25 percent of people with schizophrenia recover completely from the illness all their psychotic symptoms disappear and they return to their previous level of functioning. Another 20 percent continue to have some symptoms, but they are able to lead satisfying and productive lives.
In the developing countries, recovery rates are even better. The two World Health Organization studies mentioned above have shown that good outcome occurs in about twice as many patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in the developing world as in the developed world. The reason for the better outcome in the Third World is not completely understood, but it may be that many people with mental illness in developing world villages are better accepted, less stigmatized, and more likely to find work in a subsistence agricultural economy.
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The Psychotic Disorder Challenge
Schizophrenia affects 1 percent of the population. Its close cousin, bipolar disorder, affects 2 to 5 percent of the population. Tens of millions of people suffer. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thought and speech patterns. Hallucinations are when people see things or hear things that arent there, while delusions are thoughts that arent true, such as paranoid beliefs. Many people describe these psychotic symptoms as being out of touch with reality. People diagnosed with schizophrenia may also ignore hygiene, avoid being around people, and lack motivation. The illness affects most areas of life and can severely impair people at school, work, and in relationships.
Prevailing treatments revolve around antipsychotic medications. As useful as these are for some, unfortunately, they can yield poor results for others. A three-year study that tracked over 6,000 adults diagnosed with schizophreniashows just how poor. All patients were treated at academic medical centers and were taking antipsychotic medications. The study tracked three metrics: symptom relief, quality of life, and ability to function in society. Only 4 percent of those patients achieved full relief from the illness on all three measures. Clearly, we need new treatment ideas for schizophrenia.
What Are The Symptoms
Mental health professionals classify most schizophrenia symptoms as either positive or negative. Other symptoms involve cognition and inappropriate motor behaviors.
- Positive symptoms include hallucinations and delusions, both of which can often be managed with medications. They arent considered positive because they are helpful or healthy, but rather because they appear because certain regions of the brain are activated.
- Negative symptoms appear to stem from diminished activation of certain parts of the brain, and dont usually respond as well to medical therapy as positive symptoms. Negative symptoms include those that interfere with normal, healthy functioning. They include problems interacting with other people and little desire to form social connections, as well as the inability to show emotions and feel pleasure and rewards.
- Cognition challenges associated with schizophrenia include confusion and disorganized speech. Thinking and verbal skills can become impaired, so, for example, an answer to a question may not make sense to the person asking the question.
- Abnormal behaviors and motor skills problems can range from agitation and impatience to silliness and other childlike traits. A persons body language may not match their words, while in other situations, someone with schizophrenia may not be able to formulate an answer or may be moving excessively, so communication and focus become even greater challenges.
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New Study Challenges Our Understanding Of Schizophrenia As A Chronic Disease That Requires Lifelong Treatment
A new study shows that 30 per cent of patients with schizophrenia manage without antipsychotic medicine after ten years of the disease, without falling back into a psychosis.
The results go against conventional treatment of psychosis and schizophrenia.
Patients are usually prescribed medication for an unlimited length of time after it has been established which medicine works best without too many side effects.
But perhaps doctors should think about helping people to transition off their medication, suggests the authors behind the new study.
It shows that theres actually a large group, though still a minority of patients, who can function without medicine and without developing psychosis. So as a doctor, you shouldnt rule out that patients could give up their medicine, says co-author Merete Nordentoft, a professor in psychiatry at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
The study is .
Women who do not use drugs cope best
In the study, scientists collected observations from 496 patients who were diagnosed with schizophrenia ten years ago and started on a treatment with antipsychotic medicine for ten years.
A decade on, the doctors invited the patients in for a follow up interview to find out how they were doing. The patients were previously interviewed at the first, second, and fifth year after their initial diagnosis.
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The most well-functioning schizophrenics cope best