Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Do You Need Drugs for a Mental Disorder?

My 26-year-old son has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. He refuses to take medication. Is there any holistic approach or treatment center in the U.S. that treats this without traditional medication?

Answer (Published 1/8/2004)

Schizoaffective disorder is an illness characterized by the severe mood swings associated with manic-depressive illness, and some of the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Most of the time, psychotic symptoms (such as hallucinations and delusions) mix with those of mania and depression, but schizoaffective disorder is marked by periods where psychotic events occur without any manic-depressive symptoms.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Mood Support - A healthy outlook on life is a cornerstone of optimal health. The good news: proper diet, lifestyle, exercise and prudent supplemental nutrition can all help support an optimistic disposition. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor Recommendation today.

During the depressed state, patients may exhibit poor appetite, weight loss, insomnia, agitation, general slowing down, loss of interest in their usual activities, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, inability to concentrate and suicidal thinking. On the other hand, manic symptoms include increased activity, rapid or racing thoughts, talkativeness, little need for sleep, restlessness, inflated self-esteem, poor judgment and self-destructive behavior.

I asked Dan Shapiro, Ph.D., a psychologist here at the University of Arizona, to address your questions about treatment. He warns that the suicide rate among patients with your son's condition who don't take medication is dramatically higher than it is among those who do, and urges your son to reconsider his decision.

Although the available drugs can have unpleasant side effects, Dr. Shapiro says it is often possible to find a combination that minimizes them. Try to find a psychiatrist who can partner with your son to create a therapeutic combination that minimizes side effects.

In addition, Dr. Shapiro recommends that your son increase his intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lift depression. The best sources of omega-3s are salmon, sardines, and other cold water fish, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds. I would also recommend that your son learn ways to identify and effectively deal with stress. Try my breathing techniques and learn how to meditate, practice yoga, exercise or find other ways to relax that are personally appealing.

Best of luck to you both.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being in just eight weeks! Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe Wellness Guide
Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food Pyramid

Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you and their corresponding answers from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here