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All you need to know about teen schizoaffective disorder
Oct 10 2019

All you need to know about teen schizoaffective disorder

Mental Health

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects adults usually after they turn 18. In extremely rare cases, children and teens can develop early onset schizophrenia. However, it is possible to find an adolescent or teen who has schizoaffective disorder. This mental health disorder is another rare occurrence which is characterized by a combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorders. And just like schizophrenia, it can seriously affect a young person’s life, interfering with school, work and relationships.

Much like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder is also accompanied with a feeling that one’s mind, body and even their personality is no longer theirs. It can be hard to diagnose, sometimes harder than schizophrenia, because the mood disorder symptoms may be more prominent leading to a misdiagnosis.

One should be aware of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder and the proper steps to take for one’s adolescent, if diagnosed with this disorder. With proper knowledge and management skills, it is possible to control and overcome it in the same way that one can with other mental health disorders.

Signs and symptoms of early schizophrenia

Diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder can be hard and complicated. As mentioned before, schizoaffective disorder includes symptoms of both mood disorders, like depression or bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The catch is that these can occur at the same time or a person can just have one type of symptoms without the other. For adolescents it can be even harder as the symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can be hard to tell apart because psychotic symptoms can be common at that age during manic periods. Altogether, schizoaffective disorder can affect each person differently, once again making it hard to identify. However, in many courses of this disorder, a person will normally exhibits cycles of severe symptoms followed by a period of improvement with less severe symptoms.

Schizoaffective disorder can have several types of symptoms depending on the episode the person is going through. These episodes include:

  • A major depressive episode in which a person exhibits five of more depressive type symptoms for around 2 weeks
  • A manic episode in which a person exhibits abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood symptoms which last about a week
  • A mixed episode in which both depressive and manic symptoms are shown
  • An episode which meets criterion A for schizophrenia, during which a person exhibits two or more symptoms of schizophrenia

The symptoms may be:

Depressive symptoms

  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day or, in adolescents, an irritable mood
  • Decreased interest in things that used to bring pleasure
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Fatigue or trouble with sleep patterns
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Suicidal ideation

Manic symptoms

  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Less need for sleep, insomnia
  • Inability to stop talking
  • Daily psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Distractibility
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities which can be consequential (i.e. shopping sprees, sexual indiscretion)

Schizophrenic symptoms

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Disorganized or catatonic behavior
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Negative symptoms (i.e. lack of speech, lack of motivation)

To diagnose someone with a schizoaffective disorder, the person should be exhibiting a mood disorder, delusions or hallucinations for at least 2 weeks even when the mood disorder is controlled, and a mood disorder which is present for the majority of time during the schizophrenic period.

Management options

The treatment for schizoaffective disorder includes both medication and either a single or multiple types of psychotherapy. Medication can help to relieve psychotic symptoms, stabilize mood, and treat depression. At this time, the only approved medication for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder is paliperidone, available under the brand name Invega. Other medications, including antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants, can also be used. It is important to talk about one’s options with their doctor when considering medications and to keep track of side effects and communicate the occurrence of these information to their doctor as well.

Psychotherapy can be extremely effective in helping a person with schizoaffective disorder to manage their thought patterns, learn social skills, and reduce isolation. A type of psychotherapy that can be used to treat this disorder can be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This can help a person feel hopeful and more in control of their future. It can also aid them in learning how to deal with problems and relationships while teaching them the necessary life skills.

The family/friend element

Remember, the person suffering from schizoaffective disorder isn’t the only one affected. Family and friends are too and, as previously mentioned, this disorder can damage these relationships. This is why it is important to not only find proper treatment but to involve family and, if needed, friends also so that they are able to understand the symptoms and complications of schizoaffective disorder. this would help them learn how to both set boundaries and support the person.

Family therapy can help provide a safe and neutral environment for family members to discuss their problems and struggles in order to find solutions to support one another. This can also help those with schizoaffective disorder find the needed support from parents, siblings, and others.

Treatment

Schizoaffective disorder is a rare and somewhat complicated condition, but there is help for those dealing with it. Schizoaffective disorder requires ongoing treatment and support from both the patient and friends and family. But with treatment, there is a better chance for the person dealing with the disorder to have a happy and healthy life.

Adeona Healthcare, a leading renowned mental health care provider for adolescents aged between 12 to 17, offers evidence-based treatment approaches for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder. We offer these programs in a safe and secure environment conducive to healing. To know more about our teen schizoaffective disorder, call our 24/7 helpline (888)-997-3966 and speak to a representative. You can also chat online to get more information about teen schizoaffective disorder and other behavioral and mental health problems and treatments offered.