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.

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The Misconceptions of Schizoaffective Disorder

There are many misconceptions about schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar. This is due to the lack of education surrounding mental health. Many of these misconceptions can increase the level of stigma which people suffering from these illnesses are exposed to. Therefore it is important to address these misconceptions.

Misconception #1

Schizophrenia is dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder).

Dissociate identity disorder (DID) is characterized by at least two separate and distinct personalities or split identities in a person. People suffering from DID may experience psychotic symptoms, but it is in no way related to schizophrenia. The majority of people suffering from DID refer to their other identities or personalities as their alters; each has their own age, sex, race, gender as well as their own postures, gestures, and distinct way of talking.

Misconception #2

People with schizophrenia are violent.

This is one of the most common misconceptions, which I believe to be the result of the stigma that is produced by the media in the way which people with schizophrenia are portrayed. People with schizophrenia are no more or less prone to violence than those without the disorder. However, delusions and hallucinations can cause a person to become extremely frightened and distressed, resulting in abstract behaviour; not necessarily violent behaviour.

Misconception #3

Schizophrenia is untreatable.

Although there is no cure for schizophrenia, it can be managed effectively through the use of medication and a wide range of therapy.

Misconception #4

People with schizophrenia can’t live productive and fulfilling lives.

As stated above, schizophrenia can be managed effectively, and those suffering from the illness can continue to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Although it can make leading a ‘normal’ life quite challenging, it is still possible for those suffering from the illness to attend school or work, have a family and a social life.

Misconception #5

The effects of antipsychotic medication is worse than the illness itself.

Antipsychotic medication can cause negative side effects, however, they are very good at treating psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Modern antipsychotics aim to minimise the negative side effects of the medication whilst still being effective to treat the disorder. Certain medications won’t work for certain people, it is often the case of trying to find the right one for the said person.

Misconception #6

Bipolar disorder is just another name for mood swings.

The mood swings associated with bipolar are tremendously different to those experienced in people without the disorder.

Misconception #7

During a manic episode, the person suffering from bipolar is very happy and euphoric.

Happiness and euphoria can be experienced during a manic episode, however, anger, agitation and irritability can also be experienced during a manic episode.

Misconception #8

People with bipolar change rapidly between mania and depression.

Although this can be the case for some, which is known as ‘rapid cycling’, people with bipolar can experience both long lasting depression and mania.

Misconception #9

Schizoaffective disorder is the same as schizophrenia.

Schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are two separate illnesses. Schizoaffective disorder is characterized by having both symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia present together.

Disorganized Thoughts and Behaviour

Disorganized thoughts are something I’ve been struggling a lot with lately; making it increasingly difficult to write, communicate, or do anything for that matter.

What are Disorganized Thoughts?

When a person is experiencing disorganized thinking it can be extremely difficult to concentrate as thoughts can come and go rapidly. Resulting in the person being easily distracted and unable to focus. At times, thoughts cannot be organized into logical sequences, therefore making the thoughts become disorganized and fragmented.

Disorganized thinking becomes noticeable to others during conversation. This is because those affected by disorganized thinking will often lose their train of thought during conversations, or they may jump from subject to subject at random even when the subjects are not associated with each other, as well as speech becoming that disorganized that it may not make sense at all.

What is Disorganized Behaviour?

There are four key noticeable areas when looking at disorganized behaviour. These include a decline in daily functioning, a lack of inhibition and impulse control, unpredictable or inappropriate emotional responses, and behaviour that appears to be bizarre or have no real purpose. However, the range of severity of disorganized behaviour can be drastic. Whereas disorganized behaviour can involve a neglect of self-care behaviours, it can also include things such as not dressing according to the weather, or they may continuously mutter to themselves. With disorganized behaviour almost anything is possible.

A decline in daily functioning may cause the person to become unhygienic, stop eating or drinking and such behaviours; rendering them unable to look after themselves. A lack of inhibition and impulse control can lead to dangerous or risk taking behaviours, which can threaten the affected person’s safety.  Unpredictable and inappropriate emotional responses may cause the person to appear happy when receiving bad news, and seem sad when receiving good news. This can affect the person’s relationships with others as they may appear to be rude and arrogant, when this is not the case. Bizarre behaviour, or behaviour with no real purpose can include almost anything; such as any of the things that were previously mentioned (continuously muttering to themselves).

Coping with Disorganized Thoughts and Behaviour

Coping with disorganized thoughts and behaviour can be particularly difficult as well as distressing for the affected person. It also comes with the obstacle of a lack of insight, making us unaware as to what is really going on. This can also lead to isolation if others do not respond well to the way we are currently behaving. Therefore I do not have any methods of coping with disorganized thoughts and behaviour, other than mindfulness meditation. I previously mentioned this in another article; mindfulness meditation allows the affected person to deal with their thoughts and feelings in a healthier way. Furthermore, the more mindfulness meditation is practised, the more effective it will become.