Treatment options for schizoaffective disorder include medications, psychotherapy and life skills training. Hospitalization may also be needed under some circumstances.
People who live with schizoaffective disorder typically respond best to a combination of treatment options, including medications, psychotherapy and life skills training. The type of schizoaffective disorder the person has, as well as the level of their symptoms, will determine the approach to treatment that is best for the patient. Inpatient care or hospitalization may be needed under some circumstances. While there is no cure for the disorder, long-term treatment can help manage the symptoms.
Schizoaffective Disorder Medications
When a mental health professional is selecting the best medication to treat a patient’s schizoaffective disorder, they may consider whether or not depressive or manic subtype is present. In the depressive subtype, combinations of antidepressants in addition to an antipsychotic can be used. For people with manic subtype, a combination of mood stabilizers and an antipsychotic may be used.
Antidepressants are generally prescribed when the depressive type Schizoaffective disorder is present. These medications can help with the symptoms of depression at any level. Depending on the antidepressant prescribed, the medication may have to be used for several weeks before efficacy can be determined.
Because schizoaffective disorder causes the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, like hallucinations and delusions, patients usually benefit from taking antipsychotic medications. These drugs are useful in managing and reducing symptoms. However, most patients also need medications to control mood episodes or depressive symptoms on top of the antipsychotics.
Mood stabilizers are usually only prescribed for those patients who have been diagnosed with bipolar type. These help reduce the mood swings that a patient may experience between depression and mania.
Psychotherapy for Schizoaffective Disorder
Because medication alone is not enough to effectively manage schizoaffective disorder, therapy is also a crucial component of treatment. There are many different types of therapy available, though behavioral therapies are commonly used.
Cognitive behavior therapy helps a patient learn to recognize and change their negative thought and behavior patterns. Behavior therapies help patients develop healthy coping skills, make goals, relate more effectively to others, improve relationships and help manage and live with schizoaffective disorder.
Family or Group Therapy
Family or group therapies can be useful for people with schizoaffective disorder. Patients often rely on family members for support, so involving them in therapy is usually effective. Family therapy and education help teach families more about the condition and how to support their loved one who lives with this illness.
Improving communication and social interactions can help someone with schizoaffective disorder live a better life. Developing the ability to participate in daily activities and learn new skills specific to common settings like the home or workplace can be practiced in this facility.
Treating Schizoaffective and Co-Occurring Conditions
Someone who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder may also have co-occurring conditions, including other mental illnesses or substance use disorders. Other mental illnesses may be a result of medication from a previous misdiagnosis, trauma or maybe the underlying cause to the schizoaffective disorder. Also, a patient may gain a substance abuse disorder while attempting to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to suppress their symptoms.
Addressing all of a patient’s health concerns, both physical and mental, is an important part of effective treatment and improving quality of life.
Living with schizoaffective disorder can cause serious challenges in someone’s personal and professional life. However, with an accurate diagnosis and commitment to a treatment plan, someone can improve their experience.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use and co-occurring disorder like schizoaffective disorder, help is available. At The Recovery Village, a team of professionals can design an individualized treatment plan for substance use and co-occurring disorders. To learn more about which program could work for you, call The Recovery Village today to speak with a representative.
Cascade E, Kalali AH, Buckley P. “Treatment of schizoaffective disorder”. Psychiatry 2006, Accessed December 2018
Robinson D, Woerner MG, Alvir. “Predictors of Relapse Following Response From a First Episode of Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder.” Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1999. Accessed December 2018
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.