Onset of Schizoaffective Disorder generally begins in individuals between the ages of 16 and 25. This particular age group is vulnerable to the influences of stereotypes and the fears of various stigmas that are associated with many mental illnesses. These stigmas and stereotypes may cause some adolescents to be afraid to seek psychological help when beginning signs of disorders manifest. Hence the specific aim of your study may be to present compelling research illustrating the need for outreach and antistigmatizing programs for adolescents in order to create a greater level of comfort and understanding of schizoaffective disorder and other mental illnesses.
Research data indicates that approximately 10 to 20 percent of adolescents will suffer from some type of mental health problem. These problems run the gamut from the mild to the severe and include such things as stress, phobias, depression, anxiety and other mental disorders. Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that combines the symptoms of schizophrenia and the components of a mood disorder such as depression or manic depression into one illness. The DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for Schizoaffective Disorder on Axis I is:
An uninterrupted period of illness during which, at some time, there is either a Major Depressive Episode, a Manic Episode, or a Mixed Episode concurrent with symptoms that meet Criterion A for Schizophrenia. Note: The Major Depressive Episode must include Criterion A1: depressed mood.
Currently, Schizoaffective Disorders are treated with anti-psychotic medications. However, there is some evidence that when the patient presents with Schizoaffective Disorder, Depressive Type, that additional medication is warranted. The “first line” pharmacologic treatment (in both the acute and stabilization phases) involves the use of anti-psychotic medications, which include so-called conventional anti-psychotics (also called “neuroleptics) such as fluphenazine, mesoridazine, haloperidol, and thioridazine; newer “atypical antipsychotics” such as clozapine and resperidone; and other new anti-psychotics such as olanzapine, sertindole, and quetiapine. While there are individual differences in response to anti-psychotic medications, and although these medications differ in both their half-lives (the length of time a drug is active in the body) and their propensity to cause side-effects, in general studies have demonstrated that anti-psychotic medications are quite effective in eliminating and/or significantly reducing the severity of the symptoms. Additionally, there appears to be some value in treating Schizoaffective Disorder with supportive therapy and coping skill.
Due to the importance of personal and public perceptions of mental illness on the therapy and recovery of an individual with schizoaffective disorder, fostering a society which is conducive to understanding the nature of the mental illness is paramount. While first- and second-line medications constitute a primary treatment modality in all schizophrenia, a wide variety of psycho-social treatment interventions are also commonly used. These interventions, which include family therapy, patient education, social skills training, individual therapy, and vocational counseling among others, aim broadly at helping the schizophrenic patient to adjust to daily living and re-integrate to society following an acute episode and/or during periods of stability.