Schizoaffective Disorder

Definition

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental illness marked by symptoms of schizophrenia (for example, delusions and hallucinations) accompanied by symptoms of a mood disorder.

Overview and Facts

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

It’s a rare psychiatric condition in which patients experience symptoms of both psychosis and mood disorders together or separately. Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder often come and go (or lessen and worsen) in cycles.

There are Two Types of Schizoaffective Disorder:
  • Bipolar Type--where symptoms of schizophrenia are accompanied by symptoms of mania (and sometimes major depression).
  • Depressive Type--where symptoms of schizophrenia are accompanied only by episodes of major depression.
What are the Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder?

Depending on the type of schizoaffective disorder, symptoms may include:

  • Delusions (false beliefs that remain fixed regardless of evidence to the contrary
  • Hallucinations (seeing and/or hearing things that are not there)
  • Disordered/Confused Thinking
  • Paranoia
  • Personal Care Issues (problems with daily hygiene, maintaining physical appearance, etc.)
  • Difficulty Functioning at school, work, or in the home
  • Depressed Mood (for example, feelings of sadness, worthlessness, etc.)
  • Manic Behavior (for example, experiencing racing thoughts, feelings of euphoria, engaging in risky sexual financial or other behavior).
What Causes Schizoaffective Disorder?

The exact cause is unknown. While the typical age of onset for schizoaffective disorder is in early adulthood, the condition can appear at any time in a person’s life.

Factors that may contribute to contribute to the disease include genetics/heredity and problems with the structure or functioning of the brain.
 

What risks do people with schizoaffective disorder face?

The effects of untreated schizoaffective disorder include increasing social isolation, abuse of alcohol and other drugs, unemployment, financial troubles, self-harming behaviors, decreased lifespan, thoughts of suicide and/or attempts at suicide.
 

How is Schizoaffective Disorder Treated?

Because schizoaffective disorder is a chronic (ongoing) condition, treatment is most often long-term. The best results are usually achieved with a combination of medication, psychotherapy (individual and family), and life-skills training focused on strengthening social skills along with vocational training.