Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders

Schizophrenia

What Is Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia?

Schizoaffective and schizophrenia disorders are both thought disorders. They both consist of 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 aren’t there. 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make decisions, or develop normal motivations, causing an individual to become unusually anxious, unresponsive or withdrawn in social situations.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 Disorders 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 overlapping symptoms, mental health professionals base diagnoses on symptoms that persist for at least six months. Individuals with schizophrenia may have episodic symptoms, while others have long-lasting 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?

Typically, individuals with schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia respond quickly to antipsychotic drugs, with hallucinations improving within days to weeks and delusions improving within several weeks. For some, however, symptoms may persist, despite proper medication.

At Pasadena Villa, we treat individuals with schizophrenia with the most advanced and advanced evidence-based methods available, always ensuring that each client’s needs are the number one priority. Using individualized treatment plans, we help clients in relieving the stress that comes from assimilating back into everyday life and help them achieve the highest levels of functioning and independent living once they leave treatment.

Related