SCHIZOAFFECTIVE DISORDER TREATMENT OPTIONS
There are a few different types of schizoaffective disorder treatment options that I looked into, explored, or used personally during my illness (there may be others available, but these are just the ones that I know something about). I am going to briefly discuss them here, from the perspective of my personal experience. Remember, it is always important to consult with a trusted healthcare practitioner when deciding on a course of treatment.
This is something that I think many people with mental illness try to do at one point or another. Early on in my illness, when I didn’t have acceptance around it, or during my relapses when I didn’t have a good awareness that I was sick, I tried to manage it on my own. I tried to “grab the bull by the horns” and muscle my way through the illness. I tried to treat myself through diet, exercise, getting involved in certain activities, and anything that I thought would help. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out so well for me. Eventually, after I was brought to my knees time and time again, I realized that the illness was a real thing, and that I needed help. I was not able to heal from the illness alone.
2) Conventional Medicine:
Current mainstream medicine is of the viewpoint that schizoaffective disorder is an incurable illness that will have to be managed for the rest of your life. Personally, I do not share in this viewpoint, as it has proven inaccurate for me. With that being said, I did find conventional medicine helpful at certain times during my illness. The conventional treatment approach for schizoaffective disorder is management of the illness through the use of pharmaceutical medication and psychotherapy. I will touch on each of those options separately:
- Medication – Before I was diagnosed, when I was in the height of a psychotic episode, and ended up in a catatonic state, I am very grateful that my local hospital was there for me. I was put on an antipsychotic medication on the inpatient unit, and this allowed me to be able to sleep again (which was disrupted from the psychosis), and also reduced the occurrence of my psychotic thoughts. Some of the doctors, nurses, and psych-techs that were there for me in my time of need were absolutely amazing, and I am so thankful for them. With that being said, I felt like the medication was only “blocking” or “numbing” my feelings and thoughts, rather than restoring balance and actually promoting healing. I also had terrible side-effects that left me feeling fatigued, numb, and unable to feel completely fulfilled in my life. I was on medication on and off for many years during my 10 year battle with schizoaffective disorder, and during much of that time, it helped me to function. However, I am very grateful that I was able to find an alternative therapy that worked for me, and allowed me to feel like my healthy self again.
- Psychotherapy – I did utilize psychotherapy many times during my illness, and it was very helpful to have someone to talk to. For me, it functioned as a support system, gave me something to do in my schedule, and allowed me to talk to someone who would listen and act as a sounding board. However, it was not possible for me to think my way out of my psychosis (or the major depression that accompanied my illness). I tried as hard as I could, but my illness was not psychological for me. There were physical and chemical imbalances present that were outside of my control. Therefore, psychotherapy can be a very helpful tool, but I don’t see it as a stand-alone solution for serious mental illness.
3) Amen Clinic:
Back in 2008 when I was really looking for answers, I tried being treated at an Amen Clinic. My parents paid thousands of dollars for me to get a PET scan and consult with a psychiatrist there. For the PET scan, they injected me with radioactive dye, and then asked me questions while scanning my brain for areas of activity. The concept was that they would be able to tell by which areas of my brain were active, what the best course of treatment for me would be. The radioactive dye made me feel terrible, and I really didn’t like it. When I met with the psychiatrist there, to read my scan, he recommended a specific medication for me. Unfortunately, when I went on that medication, it didn’t work well for me at all. I was more anxious than I had ever been before, feeling like I wanted to jump out of my skin. I felt so bad, that I had to switch off of the medication after about a month. I really don’t know if other people see positive results at the Amen Clinics, but unfortunately it did not work well for me.
4) Orthomolecular Medicine
This is something that I have heard referenced a couple of times as a treatment option for schizoaffective disorder. I have read a little bit about it, and in 2012 I visited a clinic that was attempting to treat patients naturally using dietary techniques and orthomolecular medicine. As far as I understand it, the concept is to use extremely high dosages of certain vitamins (many times the recommended daily allowance), to try to heal mental illness. At the time that I was looking into it, I was not convinced enough to pursue this course of treatment. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be helpful, I just don’t know from my experience.
5) Homeopathic Medicine
Homeopathy has proven to be the treatment solution that worked best for me. With the help of homeopathy, I have been medication and side-effect free since the end of June of 2013, I am living a completely normal life, and I am actually thriving! It is a system of medicine based on the concept of “like cures like”, which dates back to Hippocrates (the father of medicine). The concept, as I understand it, is to take a substance that would normally cause certain symptoms in a person, dilute it down until the original substance no longer remains, and then use that to make a remedy to treat an illness with those same symptoms. The remedies come in little white pellets, and are dissolved under the tongue. The great thing about homeopathy is that it has no side-effects. Also, it can be taken in conjunction with pharmaceutical medication, which means you don’t have to go off of medication to try it, and see if you experience results. While they sell homeopathic remedies over the counter at many health food stores, it is very important to work with a skilled homeopathic practitioner, especially one who is experienced in treating mental illness. The remedies that are selected are carefully tailored to the individual person, and his or her set of symptoms. You can see a list of some homeopaths that specialize in mental illness on my “Homeopathy Resources” page, here. If you do decide to try homeopathy, I hope that you experience the same amazing benefits and healing that I did!
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6) Toxic Heavy Metal Detox
Since recovering from schizoaffective disorder, I have come to believe that toxic heavy metals play a major role in mental illness. You may learn more about that on my “Toxic Heavy Metal Detox” page, here.