Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders

What is Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia?

Schizoaffective and schizophrenia disorders are both thought disorders. They both have symptoms that revolve around a person’s ability to perceive reality as it is and/ or a person’s mind creating visual sights or auditory sounds that are not in the environment. Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that interferes with the way a person behaves, thinks and feels, often resulting in the individual being prone to false, delusional beliefs about themselves or others. Schizophrenia may also make it difficult for an individual to concentrate, manage emotions, make decisions, or develop normal motivations, causing an individual to become unusually anxious, unresponsive or withdrawn in social situations.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, schizoaffective disorder affects about 0.3% of the population. Men and women experience schizoaffective disorder at the same rate, but men often develop the illness at an earlier age.  The National Institutes of Health estimates approximately 1.1% of American adults will be diagnosed with schizophrenia sometime in their lifetime. Schizophrenia can occur at any age, but tends to occur in the late teens to the early 20s for men, and the late 20s to early 30s for women. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40.

The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia is unknown. A combination of causes, such as genetics, brain chemistry and structure, stress, and psychoactive drugs such as LSD may contribute to the development of the disorder. Evidence also suggests that changes in body chemistry during puberty may also play a role.  Researchers have recently theorized that there is a link between schizophrenia and brain development problems that occur in fetuses when the pregnant woman contracts certain viruses (influenza, toxoplasmosis and rubella).  Genital or reproductive infections present in the mother during conception may also increase the baby’s future risk of developing schizophrenia. However, brain injuries occurring after birth and poor parenting are not causes of schizophrenia.

What are the Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia?

Schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia typically include a cluster of symptoms, some of which overlap with other mental illnesses (like depression or bipolar disorder). Due to the overlap, a mental health professional basis diagnosis on symptoms persisting at least six months. Individuals with schizophrenia may have episodes of positive or negative symptoms, while others have long lasting, rather than episodic symptoms.

Symptoms will vary in each individual, but common symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking. A person may switch very quickly from one topic to another or give answers that are completely unrelated
  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, feelings of worthlessness or other symptoms of depression
  • Manic behavior such as feelings of euphoria, racing thoughts, increased risky behavior and other symptoms of mania

How is Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia Treated?

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia is managed in several ways. Individuals respond quickly to antipsychotic drugs, with hallucinations improving within days to weeks and delusions improving within several weeks. For some, however, positive and negative symptoms may persist, despite proper medications. Learn more about our treatment methods.

At Pasadena Villa, we treat issues with schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia with the most advanced and evidence-based methods available, always making sure the resident’s needs are the number one priority.

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Overview Of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious and challenging medical illness that affects over 2 million American adults, which is about 1% of the population age 18 and older. Although it is often feared and misunderstood, schizophrenia is a treatable medical condition.

Schizophrenia often interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, to distinguish reality from fantasy, to manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others.

Onset and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The first signs of schizophrenia typically emerge in the teenage years or early twenties. The World Health Organization has identified schizophrenia as one of the ten most debilitating diseases world wide.

Drug use can mimic the symptoms of schizophrenia and may also trigger vulnerability in individuals at risk.

Treatment Options

While there is no cure for schizophrenia, it is a treatable and manageable disease. However, people sometimes stop treatment because of medication side effects, the lack of insight into the disease, disorganized thinking, because they feel the medication is not working, or because they feel better and feel the medication is no longer needed.

Research shows that people with schizophrenia who attend structured psychosocial rehabilitation programs and continue with their medical treatment manage their illness the best. People with schizophrenia who stop taking prescribed medication are at risk of relapse into an acute psychotic episode.

It is important to realize that the needs of a person with schizophrenia may change over time. Treatment interventions include medication, support and counseling.

Pasadena Villa’s Approach to Schizophrenia Treatment

At Pasadena Villa, we offer a comprehensive approach to the treatment of schizophrenia, which includes a full medical and psychiatric work-up, psychopharmacology and medication management, education, support and a variety of individualized psychotherapies. We offer:

  • Room and Board
  • Diagnostic assessment and treatment planning
  • Social Integration Model program groups and activities
  • Individual, group and family psychotherapies
  • Specialty clinical groups
  • Psycho-educational groups, life skills training, independent living skills training, and social mentoring
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Medication management
  • Recreational therapy, art therapy, animal assisted therapy (in TN) and expressive arts therapies
  • Meetings with the interdisciplinary team
  • Case management and discharge planning
  • Addictions Assessment, groups and Relapse Prevention Planning
  • Academic assistance, tutoring, IEP coordination and college preparation

What You Should Do if Someone You Love Has Schizophrenia

If someone you love has schizophrenia and you’re looking for more information, including residential and inpatient treatment options, please contact us. The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 877-845-5235 for more information.