The Risks of Schizoaffective Disorder

The Risks of Schizoaffective Disorder

Individuals diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder have an increased risk of self-harming behaviors and suicidal ideation. Some people may struggle to cope with symptoms that can affect their ability to function. According to MedlinePlus, “Schizoaffective disorder has a wide range of signs and symptoms that make it challenging to diagnose.” In addition, “Its features overlap significantly with those of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and there is debate about whether schizoaffective disorder should be considered a separate diagnosis or a subtype of one of these other conditions.” Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention uses personalized care to treat schizoaffective disorder and co-occurring mental health disorders. 

What Is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition that involves a combination of symptoms related to schizophrenia and a mood disorder like bipolar disorder (BD) or clinical depression. Unfortunately, this disorder is challenging to diagnose due to the overlap in symptoms. According to StatPearls Publishing, “Schizoaffective disorder is among the most frequently misdiagnosed psychiatric disorders in clinical practice.” individuals with the disorder may experience some of the following: 

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Manic symptoms
  • Psychotic symptoms 

What symptoms you experience and their severity depends on a wide range of factors, including age, genetics, environment, and changes in brain chemistry. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention provides personalized care to meet your needs and preferences during treatment. 

Possible Risk Factors

A family history of bipolar disorder or major depression may increase your risk of developing the disorder. In most cases, treatment focuses on limiting the potential damage of symptoms and side effects by helping clients learn to cope with, prevent, and avoid various triggers. People with schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk of the following: 

  • Suicide and self-harming behaviors
  • Social and relationship issues 
  • Cardiovascular problems 
  • Extreme weight gain 
  • Diabetes 
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)

The social isolation and emotional instability caused by schizoaffective disorder can leave some people struggling to maintain relationships. A lack of social support often increases the risk of more severe symptoms and other co-occurring conditions. 

The Dangers of Untreated Schizoaffective Disorder

Treatment can provide essential support and help you learn to manage intrusive symptoms and compulsions. However, many people experience misdiagnoses or lack access to adequate and effective care. Untreated schizoaffective disorder can cause devastating mental health issues with side effects that include suicide or attempted suicide. The dangers are very real, and if you believe that you or someone you love has schizoaffective disorder, reach out to a medical professional for an assessment. Early diagnosis, intervention, and treatment provide the best possible outcomes. 

In addition to potential self-harming behaviors, individuals may have difficulty overcoming the following outside of treatment: 

  • Substance misuse 
  • Extreme mood changes 
  • Physical health issues, including extreme weight gain

Your physical health is directly linked to your emotional well-being. An official diagnosis and participation in a personalized treatment plan reduce the risks associated with schizoaffective disorder. You can work with your care team to create a tailored plan that takes into account any co-occurring or underlying issues that might affect your treatment and recovery. 

Warning Signs and Potential Symptoms

The warning signs of schizoaffective disorder vary significantly from person to person and may involve frequent fluctuations in mood and behavior. Individuals with schizoaffective disorder often display signs of bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to Cureus, “Due to the close overlap in symptoms, obtaining the correct diagnosis can be difficult.” Some of the most common signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include: 

  • Hallucinations 
  • Delusions 
  • Mania or hypomania
  • Disorganized thoughts, behavior, and speech (incoherence)
  • Irrational beliefs 
  • Unusual irritation or angry outbursts 
  • Extreme mood swings 
  • Episodes of major depression 

If you or someone you love show possible signs of schizoaffective disorder, you can reach out to Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention or other medical professionals for diagnosis and treatment. 

Treatment Options and Aftercare Planning

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic disorder that requires continued maintenance and long-term support. Often clients benefit from a combination of psychotherapy, peer support, and prescribed medication to achieve emotional stability. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention offers aftercare services that ensure you have the skills and resources you need to continue healing and moving forward. You can heal and recover from the effects of schizoaffective disorder. 

A few treatment options you can choose from include: 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other talk therapies
  • Antipsychotic medications 
  • Antidepressant medications 
  • Sleep aids

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder is complex because it involves managing psychosis, mania, and often severe depression simultaneously. Each grouping of symptoms needs to be treated individually, and those changes must be maintained throughout long-term recovery. Finding the perfect balance between therapy and medication can take time. Aftercare planning ensures a smooth transition from structured treatment to continuing care. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention offers a range of support services to help alumni continue their healing journey after completing a treatment program. 

Schizoaffective disorder involves symptoms of both mood disorders and schizophrenia. The combination is often highly disruptive and can lead to harmful side effects. Early intervention and treatment give you the best support for long-term recovery and ensure you have access to essential services. The disorder is not easy to diagnose, and some people experience misdiagnosis due to the overlap between symptoms of bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, and other mental health disorders. The mental health professionals at Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention will ensure you get an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment. To learn more about how we can help, contact our office today by calling us at (866) 986-1481.