Caring for Someone with Schizoaffective Disorder

Throughout the duration of your life you may find that a member of your family, friends or even your significant other has fallen victim to schizoaffective disorder. Anyone could fall victim to this illness at any time, if you do happen to find yourself in this situation knowing how to care for someone with schizoaffective disorder is extremely important and useful; not only will it improve the quality of their life, but also yours. Seeing someone you care about suffer from schizoaffective disorder can be very distressing, though I think it is important to remember that it is more distressing for the individual suffering from the disorder.

In order to be able to care for another person under any given circumstances, you must be able to look after yourself first, and ensure that you are well enough to be looking after a person. This is incredibly important when it comes to caring for someone with a mental illness, as it can be very stressful and tiring to look after the said individual. However, retaining the necessary knowledge that is needed to care for a person with schizoaffective disorder can minimise the amount of stress and fatigue that it may cause. It is also helpful to remember to focus on how the individual is feeling, rather than focusing on what they are experiencing; accepting that the hallucinations they experience are real to them is also of great significance.

If you are caring for someone with schizoaffective disorder, you should understand the illness and it’s symptoms, therefore it is important to educate yourself about the illness and how it affects the individual; otherwise you will not know how to care for them. This way you will know how to handle setbacks and how to move towards recovery, which is the aim after all. However, you need to be realistic about how quick the recovery process will be, as well as how they cope and deal with their symptoms. You must be patient with the process of recovery, there is no short cut or quick fix available for those who are mentally ill. As the symptoms of the illness and episodes it entails can be triggered by stress or stressful situations, this factor needs to be reduced. You should create a supportive and stable environment for the individual in order to aid the recovery process. Although you are caring for the person, you also need to allow for and encourage that person to have independence, otherwise they are not truly recovering.

When caring for a person with schizoaffective disorder or any other mental illness, you need to learn their warning signs and triggers; this way you can either avoid episodes, or at least be aware that they are occurring. Quite often the best way to achieve this is done by simply talking to them, most of the people who are mentally ill will know what their warning signs and triggers are. If they are unaware of what their warning signs and triggers could be, encourage them to try and work them out with or without your assistance. Supporting and encouraging the individual to get professional treatment is perhaps one of the biggest steps towards recovery, as although you may be caring for them, you cannot provide them with the treatments that they require. When the individual is attending appointments or similar events and is not comfortable with going to that location, be sure to accompany them as this can be of great comfort. Encourage the individual to look after themselves if you have noticed a decline in their well being or physical appearance. The decisions made by the individual are to be respected, and you should not be forcing any decisions or opinions upon them, even if you believe that is what’s best for the individual.

It is important that you do not make any assumptions when it comes to the said persons health, experiences, opinions, or anything for that matter. A change in mood is not always representative of an oncoming episode, and it is very possible to experience a range of emotions whilst remaining relatively stable.

Caring for a person with schizoaffective disorder can be difficult, yet you are making a great difference to that persons life. If you do care for someone with schizoaffective disorder, or are going to care for someone who suffers from the disorder, you are doing a wonderful and amazing thing; which that person will never be thankful enough for, as I have been there myself.

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Prognosis of Schizoaffective Disorder

A prognosis is the likely course of a medical condition, which in this case is schizoaffective disorder. The prognosis for each mental disorder may differ vastly, although similar disorders may have a similar prognosis. The prognosis of a mental disorder will be different for each individual, including those with the same disorder. This is because the disorder itself is not the only factor that will affect the prognosis, genetic and environmental factors may affect the prognosis of the disorder.

Receiving the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder may seem like the end of the world, however, this is not true. Schizoaffective disorder is a life changing illness, currently, there is no cure; though it can be managed and treated successfully through the use of medication and a wide range of therapy. There are many people with schizoaffective disorder who live happy, successful, and fulfilling lives.

It is typically agreed that the prognosis for schizoaffective disorder lies somewhere between that of schizophrenia and bipolar. This means that those with schizoaffective disorder have a better prognosis than those with schizophrenia, and a worse prognosis than those with bipolar disorder. However, this is not always the case as other factors will influence the prognosis of schizoaffective disorder for each individual. Schizoaffective disorder is an immensely complicated disorder, making it harder to identify and diagnose. As the disorder is highly complicated, it is more difficult to treat which in turn lowers the chance of recovery. Similarly to schizophrenia and bipolar, schizoaffective disorder have higher mortality rates to suicide than the general population. In order to maximise the potential of an individual with schizoaffective disorder having a good prognosis and chance of recovery, early and effective treatment is necessary.

The prognosis of schizoaffective disorder varies at an individual level. Although this disorder it typically serious and chronic, some individuals may find that they experience milder and less frequent episodes of illness. Each and every person with schizoaffective disorder will experience symptoms in different ways. To begin with, those who suffer from this disorder will have a decreased life expectancy of 10 – 15 years due to the association with unhealthy habits and lifestyles, such as a lack of exercise, obesity, substance use and abuse, as well as the potential of the individual committing suicide. If left untreated, the disorder may lead the individual to participate in risky activities whilst becoming dysfunctional in all areas of life, which could result in suicide. The overall rate of suicide for schizoaffective disorder is 10%, which is extremely alarming.

There are many factors which may affect your prognosis. Although some factors which affect your prognosis may be out of your control, some are not; therefore it’s extremely important to be aware of what could affect your prognosis, for better or for worse.

Factors which indicate a good prognosis:

  • Older age of onset
  • Being female
  • Good support system
  • Fewer negative symptoms
  • High level of functioning prior to onset of illness
  • No history of substance abuse
  • No family history of schizophrenia / bipolar / schizoaffective disorder

Factors which indicate a poor prognosis:

  • History of substance abuse
  • Higher number of negative symptoms
  • Earlier age of onset
  • Inadequate support system / no support system
  • Being male
  • Low level of functioning prior to the onset of illness

If you or someone you know suffers from schizoaffective disorder, please seek professional treatment immediately. Many people who suffer from schizoaffective disorder can and do lead perfectly normal lives. Although there is no cure for this disorder, with treatment it can be managed effectively. Through the use of medication and therapy, symptoms can be controlled which will allow the individual to function within the real world. With time, the individual themselves and those around them can learn to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of a potential relapse in order to prevent them. Having a good support network is invaluable as other people will be able to assist you with recovering from your mental illness, by identifying a potential relapse or providing you with access to care in case of a relapse or emergency. In conclusion, those who suffer from schizoaffective disorder can lead healthy, fulfilling and normal lives with the use of treatment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The Journey to Recovery

Recovery, a word we have all heard before at some point in our lives. The first point I’m going to make here is that recovery means something different to each and every person, and you’re idea of recovery may not be someone else’s idea of recovery; and that’s perfectly okay. The journey to recovery is your journey, and how you take that journey is up to you, there will be setbacks but they are to be expected. Recovery is not always about success, there will be hiccups in the road but you can continue past them, this journey is not straightforward. However you can and you will get there.

The Steps towards Recovery

Recovery is a process, and to make that process easier, here are some clearly outlined steps you can take towards recovery.

The moment recovery begins, is the moment you realise and accept that you do have a problem. Denial will completely hinder the recovery process, and prevent it from even beginning. I have found that with myself and the majority of other people, the first step to recovery can be the hardest. Admitting that you have a problem is difficult, and a lot of the time you may not want to believe that you have a problem; but by admitting and accepting it, you can work towards resolving that problem and completing the journey to recovery.

Now that you have accepted your problem, it is time to take action. This action depends on the problem at hand, and how you want to deal with it. As recovery is a very personal thing, the action you take may be very different to anyone else’s, but that’s okay, find what works best for you and keep persevering with that action. For example, if you are like me in the sense that we both suffer from schizoaffective disorder, you may choose to take up therapy and medication, whereas I may choose to only take up therapy; yet we are still working towards the same goal, we are merely taking different paths to get there. At first, this may seem very difficult, but as time goes on you will find that it gets easier and easier; and that the action you have chosen to take becomes increasingly effective.

In order for this action to work successfully, it is important to trust and cooperate with those around you, particularly those who are supporting you and aiding you in your journey to recovery. This is because sometimes you can become too ill to see what is best for you, therefore putting your trust into trained professionals can be hugely beneficial. Recovery is something you achieve for yourself, and it cannot be achieved for you by other people, but they can provide the support you need to complete your journey to recovery.

Now it’s time to take up a healthy self-care routine, along with using and developing wellness tools. For me, this is one of the most important steps towards recovery, and also one of the most important aspects of it. This might include things like taking up exercise, making time for yourself to relax and partake in hobbies, taking up meditation or yoga, anything that you feel benefits you and helps you to function better is a wellness tool. By using these tools regularly you should find it becomes easier to manage your mental illness, as well as improve your overall wellbeing.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you are well on your way to recovery; and as you have come so far along, it is time to begin with self-evaluation. However, before you do begin with self-evaluation it is important to note that this has to be achieved in a healthy way, rather than becoming self-critical of oneself. Self-evaluation and improvement are wonderful tools that can be extremely effective, whereas self-criticism will only stifle your journey to recovery and promote unhealthy behaviours. Accepting your flaws and failures is the key to moving on and continuing with your growth.

The end of the journey to recovery is drawing in, you are only a few steps away from completing your journey; and everything becomes fair easier and simpler from this point onward. As you now know how to perform a self-evaluation, it is time to being cultivating healthy thinking and behavioural habits. This may mean enforcing positive thinking, finding healthy ways to deal with stress, and just rerouting negative energies into a positive behaviours and thinking patterns. These will soon become habits and you will find that the way you manage your mental illness will come from cultivating these behaviours.  This is also the time to realise that feelings are not always facts, and you can choose how to react and deal with them.

You are one step away from completing your journey to recovery, and that final step is to move on with your life and give your recovery process time to work successfully. Recovery will take a different amount of time for each individual, and it’s important to remember that there are some things that only time can heal, and with time the problems you are suffering from now will become much more manageable. As humans, we learn through experiences, and that’s why time is one of the most important factors within recovery, time heals all.

Setbacks – What to do and how to cope

During your journey to recovery you will inevitably experience setbacks, these are a natural part of the process and can occur when you are improving things in the long term. As we are dealing with the recovery of mental illness here, it is important to have a plan set out in case of an emergency or an acute relapse. This will ensure that you get the support and help you need immediately, and get you back onto the road to recovery as soon as possible. Having a good support network is greatly beneficial to aid you on your journey to recovery, as if you do experience any setbacks or relapses, you will have the support of others to carry you through that difficult time. When you do experience a setback, keep persevering and try again. If you find that you keep failing in your journey to recovery, take up a different action or method to reach your goal of recovery, but never give up on recovery itself.

Recovery is achievable, you’ll get there.