Friday, December 12, 2014

Schizoaffective Disorder, Part 3

This blog is taken from the Mayo Clinic

Tests and diagnosis
When doctors suspect someone has schizo-affective disorder, they typically ask for medical and psychiatric histories, conduct a physical exam, and run medical and psychological tests, such as:
  • Blood tests, drug screening and imaging studies. These may include a lab test called a complete blood count (CBC), other blood tests that may help rule out conditions with similar symptoms, and screening for alcohol and other drugs. The doctor may also request imaging studies, such as an MRI or CT scan.
  • Psychological evaluation. A doctor or mental health provider will check mental status by observing appearance and demeanor and asking about thoughts, moods, delusions, hallucinations, substance abuse, and potential for violence or suicide.

Diagnostic criteria for schizo - affective disorder

To be diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, a person must meet criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions.
DSM criteria for the diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder include:
  • A mood disorder (major depression or mania) along with schizophrenia
  • Delusions or hallucinations for at least two weeks, even when mood disorder symptoms are under control
  • A mood disorder present for the majority of time over the entire course of the schizophrenic illness

Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff
People with schizo-affective disorder generally respond best to a combination of medications and counseling. Treatment varies depending on the type and severity of symptoms, and whether the disorder is depressive-type or bipolar-type.

In general, doctors prescribe medications to relieve psychotic symptoms, stabilize mood and treat depression.The only medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of schizo -affective disorder is the anti-psychotic drug paliperidone (Invega).

However, a number of medications approved for the treatment of other mental health conditions also may be helpful for schizo-affective disorder. These medications include:
  • Anti-psychotics. Doctors prescribe these medications to treat psychotic symptoms, such as delusions, paranoia and hallucinations. In addition to paliperidone (Invega), other antipsychotic medications that may be prescribed include clozapine (Clozaril), risperidone (Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa) and haloperidol (Haldol).
  • Mood-stabilizing medications. When the schizo-affective disorder is bipolar-type, mood stabilizers can level out the highs and lows of bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. People with bipolar disorder have episodes of mania and depressed mood. Examples of mood stabilizers include lithium (Lithobid) and divalproex (Depakote). Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol, others) and valproate (Depacon) also may be used for their mood-stabilizing properties.
  • Antidepressants. When depression is the underlying mood disorder, antidepressants can treat feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or difficulty with sleep and concentration. Common medications include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac) and escitalopram (Lexapro).                                                                                      
  • Schizo-affective disorder requires ongoing treatment and support. People with schizo-affective disorder may benefit from:
  • Family support groups
  • Peer and social connections and support
  • Social skills training for work and school
  • Assistance with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including self-care, regular physical activity and healthy eating.