Schizoaffective disorder - Treatment
How is schizoaffective disorder treated?
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that you should be offered a combination of medication and talking therapies.
NICE create guides for health professionals to follow when treating and caring for a particular condition. The care and treatment for schizoaffective disorder can be found in different guidelines. The most common guidelines used are the following:
- Psychosis and schizophrenia in adults: prevention and management.
- Bipolar disorder: assessment and management.
- Depression in adults: recognition and management
Which medication will I get?
The medication you are given will depend on the type of schizoaffective disorder you have. Your medication may be a mix of antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilisers.
- Manic type schizoaffective disorder is likely to be treated with a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic drug.
- Depressive type is likely to be treated with a mood stabiliser and antidepressant.
- For an acute episode of schizoaffective disorder you may be given antipsychotic medication.
An acute episode means that you become very unwell quickly.
Your doctor may also prescribe you sleeping tablets or benzodiazepines. This type of medication is addictive so you will normally only have them for a short time.
You may forget or not want to take your medication every day. You can ask your doctor about a depot injection instead. You will be given the injection every 2 or 4 weeks. You won’t have to take tablets if you have a depot injection.
Your doctor may offer you antidepressants. Antidepressants can trigger manic episodes for some people. Your doctor should monitor your medication.
Your GP should consult a psychiatrist if they want to give you an antidepressant along side another medication such as lithium or antipsychotic medication. Your doctor should do certain checks at certain times to monitor lithium and antipsychotic medication.
What talking treatments should I get?
The guidance says the NHS should offer you talking treatments and family intervention as part of your recovery. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the main treatment NICE recommends. NICE guidance says that supportive psychotherapy or counselling will not help with psychotic symptoms. But your team should think about your preference and may offer you a different treatment if CBT is not available in your area.
What is CBT?
CBT is a talking treatment. It is there to try and help you to:
- understand links between your thoughts, feeling and actions,
- understand your symptoms and how they affect your day to day life, and
- look at your perceptions, beliefs and reasoning.
CBT aims to:
- help you to be aware of signs that your thoughts, feelings or behaviours are changing,
- give you a way of coping with your symptoms
- reduce stress, and
- improve your functioning
What is family intervention?
Family intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships. This should be offered to people who you live with or who you are in close contact with. The support that you and your family are given will depend on what problems there are and what preferences you all have. This could be group family sessions or individual sessions. Your family should get support for 3 months to 1 year and should have at least 10 planned sessions.
Family intervention could be to:
- learn more about your symptoms
- improve communication among family members.
Family intervention could help you and your family to:
- learn more about your symptoms,
- understand what is happening to you,
- improve communication with each other,
- know how to support each other,
- think positively,
- become more independent,
- be able to solve problems with each other,
- know how to manage a crisis, and
- improve mental wellbeing.
Arts therapy should be considered for you if your psychosis keeps coming back. This is known as reoccurring psychosis. Arts therapy may be more useful if you have depressive symptoms such as withdrawing from family and friends.
You will have arts therapy with a therapist. It will usually be in a group. It is there to mix different communication techniques with creativity.
Art therapy aims to help you to:
- learn new ways of relating to other people,
- show how you are feeling,
- accept your feelings, and
- understand your feelings
You can click on the following to find more information about them:
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