Originally published Psych Central
With schizoaffective disorder and social anxiety, I have a number of different types of symptoms to cope with.
For me, psychotic symptoms can be the hardest to deal with. The first thing I turn to is medication. I have tried a few of the newer atypical anti-psychotics and fortunately, I respond well. It takes more than medication alone, though.
Some things that can help people cope with psychotic symptoms:
• Help from others– I have issues with fatigue and motivation. If someone can help me with chores: childcare, housecleaning, cooking it is a big relief.
• Music– Listening to music can help drown out voices.
• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This is a type of therapy based on moving from distorted thinking to more rational thinking. It can be used to treat people with psychotic symptoms, but anyone can have distorted thinking.
• Asking– If I trust someone I can ask them to help me determine what is real.
• Acting “As If” – I can act like consensus reality (what everyone else believes) is real. The longer I do the more I start to believe it.
• Psychiatric Service Dogs– Dogs can be trained to perform specific functions that help with your disability.
• Technology– Apps like snapchat can be used to verify that what you are seeing is real.
My mood symptoms are varied. I rarely am euphoric. I am more typically irritable and paranoid. Or sad and anhedonic. But, I can be reckless and impulsive. Some things that help me with different mood symptoms. (There is overlap with the different coping skills):
• Support groups – A number of organizations have support groups for people with mental health conditions. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and National Alliance on Mental illness (NAMI) are two national organizations.
• CBT– like I mentioned above this is a type of therapy that helps with distorted thinking. Distorted thinking can lead to depression and CBT can help your mood.
• Acting against Impulse– This is a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) technique. If your first impulse is to do something reckless, push yourself to do the opposite.
• Talk Therapy– This goes for all the sections, but if I am irritated at something specific my therapist can help me put it in perspective.
For now, I have my psychotic symptoms pretty well under control and my depressions are mild. I haven’t been manic in years. I am still plagued by anxiety. Here are some of my anxiety coping skills:
• Breathe– I take a deep breath and let it out slowly to help me calm down.
• Visualization– I picture an event coming up, going well and I don’t get so nervous about it.
• Routine– I take my medications and go to bed, wake up at the same time, plan for change ahead of time.
• Journaling– getting my thoughts out helps me to organize them and take some of the emotion out.
• Calling someone-talking to a friend helps me to not feel alone.
• Avoiding over-stimulation– Sometimes I just need quiet time. A big crowded place is too busy for me.
• Breaking Tasks into Pieces-If I try to take on a project all at once I freeze, but if I break it up into more manageable pieces I can get it done.
• Socialize- I tend to isolate which isn’t healthy so if I am invited out, I push myself to go. I usually have at least an okay time, it is just getting out the door.