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Schizoaffective Disorder

Definition

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition that affects thoughts, moods, and behavior. It has some symptoms of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Treatment can improve outcomes.

Causes

The cause of schizoaffective disorder is not known. It may be due to genes or environment. This may make changes in the brain.

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Risk Factors

This problem is more common in women than men.

A family history of mental illness may also raise the risk of this condition.

Symptoms

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may vary between people. There may be symptoms of depression, mania, or psychosis.

Depressive symptoms may be:

  • Low mood
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Weight loss and lack of hunger
  • Problems focusing
  • Sleeping problems
  • Feeling uneasy, worthless, or guilty
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Manic symptoms may be:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Lots of activity and talking
  • Being distracted
  • Not needing sleep
  • Inflated self-esteem or big ideas
  • Self-harm

Psychotic symptoms may be:

  • False beliefs
  • Seeing, feeling, or hearing things that are not there
  • Strange speech, thinking, and behavior
  • Total calmness
  • Lack of expression, speech, or motivation

The person may have problems with basic self-care. They may not wash or bathe. They may not keep jobs and relationships.

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. Diagnosis is based on symptoms. A mental health doctor can diagnose the condition.

Treatment

The goal is to ease symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. Treatment will depend on the type of symptoms. A combination of treatments may be used.

Options may be:

  • Medicines, such as:
    • Antipsychotics—if psychosis is present
    • Antidepressants
    • Mood stabilizers
  • Counseling, such as:
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy—to help with coping
    • Social skills training
    • Support groups
    • Family counseling—to help family to provide support
  • Lifestyle changes, such as:
    • Healthy diet, physical activity, and relaxing
    • Not using drugs or alcohol

Outcomes vary. Many people will get better. Some will have lasting or worsening symptoms.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines to prevent schizoaffective disorder.

RESOURCES:

National Institute of Mental Health
https://www.nimh.nih.gov

National Mental Health Association
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Mental Health Association
https://cmha.ca

Canadian Psychiatric Association
http://www.cpa-apc.org

REFERENCES:

Miller JN, Black DW. Schizoaffective disorder: A review. Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2019;31(1):47-53.

Schizoaffective disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/schizoaffective-disorder. Accessed March 11, 2021.

Schizoaffective disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness website. Available at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizoaffective-Disorder. Accessed March 11, 2021.

Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD  Last Updated: 3/11/2021