The Difference Between Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia


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Psychiatrist Carol Lynn Childers, MD, works with patients at two Heartland Health Centers facilities in the Chicago area. At one Heartland facility, Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., Carol Lynn Childers, MD, works with patients who have serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders.

Although it is rare, schizophrenia is one of the most talked about serious mental illnesses. It affects roughly one percent of the population and is characterized by hallucinations, delusions, general apathy, and disorganized speech and behavior. These symptoms last at least six months, unless they are treated, and interfere with relationships, self-care, or work.

Many of these positive psychotic symptoms and negative symptoms, like social withdrawal and cognitive difficulties, are shared by another serious mental illness: schizoaffective disorder. In essence, schizoaffective disorder is a blend of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. Because of the involvement of a mood disorder, there are two categories of schizoaffective disorder: bipolar and depressive.

People with the bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder experience both depressive episodes and manic episodes alongside the psychotic symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia. Meanwhile, those with the depressive type of schizoaffective disorder only experience depressive episodes.

While some people with schizophrenia do experience these mood episodes as a response to their illness, this not the case with people who have schizoaffective disorder. Rather, those with schizoaffective disorder experience mood episodes independently of their psychosis. It is neither a response to psychotic experiences, nor a temporary result of external factors.


Opioids and Depression – A Troubling Relationship


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Mental Health

Dr. Carol Lynn Childers, a psychiatrist with a degree from McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal, has built up extensive experience in treating opioid addiction, postpartum depression, and other serious mental health conditions. Currently a consulting psychiatrist with Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and with Healthcare Alternative Systems, in Chicago, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers has focused much of her work on meeting the needs of underserved and multicultural populations.

Estimates of the number of people in the United States dealing with prescription painkiller addictions top 2 million. A broad consensus among professionals notes that depression frequently accompanies and compounds such addictions.

Depression and abuse of opioids exhibit what psychiatrists call a bidirectional connection, in that each multiplies the risk of developing the other. Some recent studies even seem to indicate that simply using prescription opioids for conditions such as headaches and backaches in itself may place patients at greater risk of developing symptoms of depression.

As reported in the Annals of Family Medicine in 2015, researchers at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine found that out of a group of more than 100,000 patients who received prescriptions for opioid medications, approximately 10,000 developed notable depression after a period of one month. The researchers were particularly concerned because no significant number of these patients had been diagnosed with depression before receiving the prescriptions.

The Saint Louis team determined that the likelihood of a new occurrence of depression grows the longer an individual continues to use opioids for pain relief.

ASAM Makes Naloxone Recommendations to FDA

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Dr. Carol Lynn Childers serves as a consulting psychiatrist at Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare in Chicago. Alongside her work, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers maintains membership in the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

In December 2018, ASAM contacted the Food and Drug Administration with its input on committee meetings of the Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, specifically on issues related to naloxone availability. In its comments, the organization leaned upon many pillars of its official position statement, issued in 2016, which tout naloxone as a safe, effective intervention for opioid-related overdoses.

Suggestions ASAM put forward to the committees include prescribing naloxone if doctors feel a situation exists that exhibits risk factors associated with overdosing. ASAM also felt doctors should educate patients about the dangers of overdosing and how to correctly use naloxone in the event of an overdose. In addition, ASAM called for an over-the-counter solution for individuals who live in rural communities or other areas in which obtaining a prescription for the medication might be prohibitive.

The Causative Relationship Between Homelessness and Mental Health

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Mental Health

A graduate of Yale and McGill Universities, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers is a psychiatrist who has forged a career helping people seeking mental health treatment in the city of Chicago. Prior to her current role as a consulting psychiatrist for Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare, Dr. Carol Lynn Childers worked as a mental health professional with Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, where she focused on treatment of psychiatric issues in the city’s indigent and homeless populations.

Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that up to a quarter of the U.S. homeless population struggles with mental illness, compared to just six percent of the general population in the country. Studies also suggest that mental illness has a causative relationship to homelessness, rather than a correlative one. This is evidenced by the fact that living homeless is a stressful, isolating, and depressive experience often caused as a direct result of traumatic life experiences, such as the loss of a loved one, a job, or the deterioration of important personal relationships.

Those at risk of homelessness who are struggling with mental health issues can begin their search for assistance through the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) program supported by SAMHSA. To find a local PATH provider, those in need can use the discovery tool on the SAMHSA website at