What Are Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders?
These disorders are characterized by loss of contact with reality (psychosis), false auditory or visual perceptions (hallucinations), false beliefs (delusions), disorganized speech and behavior, and limited affect. These diagnoses can also cause impaired reasoning and typically result in significant impairment in work situations and interpersonal relationships. Schizoaffective Disorder refers to someone who experiences symptoms of schizophrenia along with a major depressive or manic episode. While genetics are believed to cause these disorders, the exact cause is not yet known. These disorders affect men and women equally and occur in about 1% of the population globally. Symptoms usually begin in late adolescence or early adulthood. Onset typically occurs in women in their mid-20’s and late teens/early 20’s in men.
Subtypes of Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders
- Schizoaffective Disorder
- engage in “magical thinking”
- sense the presence of an unseen person
- significant decrease in self-care
- extreme feelings of suspicion or grandiosity
- grossly disorganized speech or behavior
- trouble focusing
- difficulty beginning or sustaining activities
Diagnosis and Treatment
Accurate identification by a qualified mental health professional can take time, as the DSM 5 criteria require that one or more symptom(s) must last for at least six months before the diagnosis can be made. While threats of violence are much more common than serious harm to self or others, suicide is the most common cause of premature death in people with these disorders. Treatment typically includes careful selection and monitoring of medications (usually antipsychotics) and ongoing psychotherapy. The person may need to learn life skills to function well in work settings. Regular therapeutic services can reduce a person’s likelihood to experience relapses or the need for hospitalization.
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