Psychiatric Residential Treatment Network of Services

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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make decisions, or develop normal motivations, causing an individual to become unusually anxious, unresponsive or withdrawn in social situations.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 or 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 or 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.

Additional Reading:

Learn more about the impact of schizoaffective disorders on patients and families and the Pasadena Villa treatment environment.

Read more on our blog about the symptoms and treatment of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.