Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health condition that has symptoms of a mood disorder and psychosis. It is a disorder that has some symptoms similar to
schizophrenia, but is considered a separate disorder.
It is not clear what causes schizoaffective disorder. Some factors that may play a role in schizoaffective disorder include:
Imbalance of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine
Changes in certain areas of the brain, such as those that affect emotion and cognition
These changes in the brain and chemicals may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Schizoaffective disorder is more common in women than men.
A family history of mental illness may also increase the risk of schizoaffective disorder.
Symptoms may vary depending on age or gender. For example:
Males are more likely to develop symptoms which first appear during teen years or early twenties
Women are more likely to develop symptoms in their twenties
Younger people tend to have manic symptoms
Older people tend to have depressive symptoms
Symptoms also vary between people but may include a mix of symptoms of
depression, mania, or
Depressive symptoms can include:
Loss of interest in usual activities
Difficulty sleeping including insomnia
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Suicidal or other morbid thoughts
Manic symptoms may include:
Rapid or racing thoughts
Increased activity and talking
Not needing sleep
Inflated self-esteem or lofty ideas
Psychotic symptoms may include:
Disorganized speech, thinking, and behavior
Lack of facial expression, speech, or motivation
These symptoms can also lead to difficulty carrying out basic self-care and hygiene tasks, cause problems creating or keeping personal relationships, and holding a job.
A diagnosis is made according to the health history and symptoms that you and those around you report to the doctor. Certain features and symptoms will help your doctor identify schizoaffective disorder from other similar conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
You may be referred to a specialist for diagnosis.
Treatment for schizoaffective disorder is focused on managing symptoms and preventing a worsening of symptoms. Most treatments include a combination of medication, counseling, and lifestyle changes.
Consistent contact with your healthcare team is important to keep treatment on track, address exacerbation, and improve quality of life.
Medication may help to manage symptoms. The exact type of medication will depend on your symptoms but may include one or more of the following types of medication:
Antipsychotic medications—to address symptoms of psychosis
Medication needs may change. Regular contact with your medical team can help identify when these changes may be needed.
There are a variety of counseling options to help manage symptoms and the effects of this disorder. Some therapy options include:
Beddoe AE, Pravikoff D. Schizoaffective disorder. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated January 10, 2014. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Schizoaffective disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness website. Available at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizoaffective-Disorder. Accessed October 4, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/7/2015
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