People with schizoaffective disorder are often treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. How well treatment works depends on the type of schizoaffective disorder, its severity and its duration.
Doctors and other mental health professionals will often prescribe medications to relieve symptoms of psychosis, stabilize mood and treat depression. The only medication approved by the FDA to treat schizoaffective disorder is the antipsychotic drug paliperidone (Invega).
However, some medications approved for the treatment of other mental health conditions may be helpful for schizoaffective disorder. These medications include:
- Antipsychotics. A health care provider will prescribe antipsychotics to relieve symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations.
- Antidepressants. When schizoaffective disorder is depressive-type antidepressants can alleviate feelings of sadness, despair and trouble concentrating.
- Mood stabilizers. When bipolar disorder is the underlying mood disorder, mood stabilizers can help stabilize the highs and lows.
Family involvement, psychosocial strategies, self-care peer support, psychotherapy and integrated care for co-occurring substance abuse can all be part of an individual support plan.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps change the negative thinking and behavior associated with feelings of depression. The goal of this therapy is to recognize negative thoughts and to teach coping strategies. With conditions like schizoaffective disorder that have symptoms of psychosis, additional cognitive therapy is added to basic CBT (CBTp). CBTp helps people develop coping strategies for persistent symptoms that do not respond to medicine.
Alternative Treatment Options
For cases where medication and psychotherapy do not work for a person with schizoaffective disorder, ECT may be worth considering. ECT involves transmitting short electrical impulses into the brain. Although ECT is a highly effective treatment for severe depression, it is not the first choice in treating schizoaffective disorder.
Research has shown that African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be misdiagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, so people who have been diagnosed should make sure that their mental health professional understands their background and shares their expectations for treatment.