What Is Schizoaffective Disorder?

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Little is known about schizoaffective disorder. Some experts believe that it is a provisional diagnosis until it can be determined if a patient truly has schizophrenia or an affective disorder. However, it is included in the DSM-IV as an actual diagnosis, and must be treated as such.

Essentially, people with this illness experience symptoms of both schizophrenia and affective disorders (either bipolar disorder or depression). The criteria include a person having a period in which the affective disorder is active and two of the major symptoms of schizophrenia (such as delusions and hallucinations) are also present. Additionally, the person must experience delusions or hallucinations for a period of two weeks in the absence of any mood disorder.

Treatment for this disorder is based on symptoms. For the schizophrenic symptoms, anti-psychotics such as Zyprexa and Geodon are utilized. Manic symptoms may be treated with lithium and Depakote, while depressive symptoms are treated with anti-depressants.

Psychosocial treatment may focus on the clients understanding of the disease process, coping with their illness, new ways of coping with stress, and the ability to function better in social and job settings, as well communication issues.

Derek Wood is a Nationally Board Certified Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse, and holds a Master's degree in Psychology. His experience in the online arena of mental health can be traced back to 1997, when he was a host for Online Psych on AOL. He joined Get Mental Help, Inc. as Clinical Content Director for Mental Health Matters. Derek, with his wife Lisa, developed the original version of psychTracker (then called A Mood Journal), after his diagnosis with Schizo-Affective Bipolar, when they could not find a system available that was robust enough to help him effectively manage his symptoms and accurately interpret his charting. Derek has worked in the field of mental health since 2001, as a Unit Manager of an adult long-term treatment facility, a charge nurse in an adolescent short-term inpatient facility and long-term residential facility, and as a School Psychologist. He has also written several articles which are being used as CEU for nurses and educators.

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