Schizoaffective disorder treatment can be very challenging for both the doctor and patient, but with determination, treatment of schizoaffective disorder can be successful and people with this illness can go on to lead full, healthy lives. Long-term monitoring and on-going treatment is normally needed for the most positive outcome.
The best schizoaffective disorder treatment involves both medication and psychotherapy. It may also involve hospitalizations for acute psychosis, mania or suicidal ideation. However, once the acute phase of the illness has been handled, most successfully-treated people with schizoaffective disorder lead fairly independent lives.
Psychotherapy Part of Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment
Psychotherapy and psychoeducation can be very useful for patients with schizoaffective disorder. One thing these tools do is give the person insight into their illness, which is often lacking. People with a greater understanding of their own disorder can more fully participate in treatment and these people generally show better outcomes. Therapy can support the individual throughout all phases of schizoaffective treatment, including encouraging medication compliance.
Therapy in schizoaffective disorder treatment has many goals. Some of them include:
- Building better relationships with family members and others
- Developing social skills
- Cognitive rehabilitation (a return to normal functioning in spite of the problems inherent in the brain)
- Reduction of expressed emotion in all areas of life
- Teaching stress-reduction techniques
- Family therapy and education
Other types of assistance may also be available to the family or to the person with schizoaffective disorder themselves. This might include aid in attending healthcare appointments and maintenance of structured daily activities for the patient.
Medication Treatment of Schizoaffective Disorder
The goal of psychopharmacologic (medication) therapy is to even out moods and reduce or eliminate the symptoms of psychosis. Several medication types are used in the treatment of schizoaffective disorder and most people benefit from a combination of medication.
While there is only one drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating schizoaffective disorder (paliperidone (Invega)), many different drugs approved for other mental disorders are typically used. Drugs for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression are commonly prescribed.
Much as their name implies, antipsychotic drugs (also called neuroleptics) treat the psychotic symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. These are symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. In addition to paliperidone (Invega), the following are also commonly prescribed for schizoaffective disorder treatment:1
- Haloperidol (Haldol, Serenace)
- Risperidone (Risperdal, Risperdal Consta)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- Clozapine (Clozaril, FazaClo) – often used in refractory cases
- And others
Typically prescribed for treatment of schizoaffective disorder - bipolar type, mood-stabilizing medication works to reduce the mania or mixed moods seen in this illness. Mood-stabilizers may also work to combat depression. Commonly prescribed mood-stabilizing medications for schizoaffective disorder include:
- Valproic acid (Depakote, Depakene, Depacon, Stavzor)
- Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
- Lithium (Lithobid)
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Carbatrol, Epitol, Equetro)
Antidepressants are also commonly prescribed as part of schizoaffective disorder treatment. This is typically when the schizoaffective disorder is of the depressive subtype but it could be for the bipolar subtype as well if depressive symptoms are present. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the preferred class of antidepressants prescribed due to their favorable side effect profile and their reduced risk of use in a suicide attempt.
Commonly prescribed antidepressant medication for schizoaffective disorder treatment includes:
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)