Schizoaffective Disorder is a disorder that not many have heard of but that can affect a large number of people. Most men and women have heard of schizophrenia, and they might have also heard of depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder. Schizoaffective Disorder is a chronic mental health condition that has both symptoms of schizophrenia as well as a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety.
The beginning of this disorder might be experienced with a psychotic break, meaning that a person experiences some sort of psychosis. Psychosis is considered to be an experience of the mind (psyche) characterized by the loss of contact with reality and including either hallucinations or delusions. A psychotic break may be the beginning of a lifelong relationship with having a psychotic disorder, such as Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder. Schizophrenia is a psychological illness that affects thinking, feeling, movement, and behavior. Symptoms of Schizophrenia include disturbances in thought, delusions, hallucinations, certain erratic feelings, changes in movement, and unusual behavior.
If someone were also experiencing the symptoms of depression, Bipolar Disorder, or Anxiety, alongside having Schizophrenia, he or she would likely be diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. It’s an illness that affects about 0.3% of the population. However, the illness can play a significant role in the development of an addiction. It’s not uncommon that someone with a psychotic disorder would have an addiction to either drugs or alcohol. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, those who have a psychotic disorder are much more likely to have a substance abuse addiction than the general population. Interestingly, at times it can be difficult to tell the difference between those with a psychotic disorder and those who are affected by alcohol or drugs because those who abuse drugs can show similar symptoms.
In fact, the most common substance addiction is not what most people think, but it is a common one among those who struggle with a psychotic disorder. Most people with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder have an addiction to nicotine. In fact, they are three times more likely to be addicted to nicotine than the rest of the general population. Because the majority of adults with psychosis have a nicotine addiction, researchers are exploring whether they have a biological need.
One of the dangers of a nicotine addiction for those who experience psychosis is that the nicotine can make antipsychotic medication less effective. For this reason, many mental health professionals are encouraging their patients to quit smoking. There are methods to quit smoking to make the withdrawal process less challenging for those with a psychotic disorder. However, an adult who would like to wean off nicotine should be carefully observed by their psychiatrist to monitor whether their reaction to psychotropic medication is changing.
Among those who struggle with a psychotic disorder, having addictions to alcohol or other drugs is also quite common. Of course, a psychiatrist should know about any addiction that might be present. The effects of an addiction can influence the effectiveness of the psychotropic medication as well as the ability to function. If an addiction is getting in the way of treatment, it’s important to ask for the support of friends and family.
It’s important to know that most adults who have a psychotic disorder, such as Schizoaffective Disorder, can lead normal lives, particularly if a treatment plan has been developed and if he or she follows that plan.
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