Schizoaffective disorder

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Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression or mania.


Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can vary from person to person and may include psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder. There are two types of schizoaffective disorder: bipolar type, which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression, and depressive type, which includes only major depressive episodes. Defining features of schizoaffective disorder include a major mood episode and a two-week period of psychotic symptoms when a major mood episode is not present.

Common symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include delusions, hallucinations, impaired communication and speech, bizarre or unusual behavior, symptoms of depression or manic mood, impaired occupational and social functioning, and problems with managing personal care.

When to See a Doctor

If you suspect that someone you know may have schizoaffective disorder symptoms, talk to that person about your concerns and encourage them to seek professional help. If your loved one is in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, call emergency responders for help or take them to the nearest hospital emergency room.


The exact causes of schizoaffective disorder are still under investigation, but genetics are likely a factor in its development.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of developing schizoaffective disorder include having a close blood relative with schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder, experiencing stressful events that may trigger symptoms, and taking mind-altering drugs that can worsen symptoms when an underlying disorder is present.


Untreated schizoaffective disorder can lead to various complications, including an increased risk of suicide, social isolation, family conflicts, unemployment, anxiety disorders, substance use problems, significant health issues, and poverty and homelessness.

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Diagnosing schizoaffective disorder involves ruling out other mental health disorders and determining that symptoms are not due to substance use, medication, or a medical condition. The diagnosis process may include a physical exam, tests and screenings to rule out other conditions, a psychiatric evaluation, and the use of diagnostic criteria for schizoaffective disorder from the DSM-5.


Treatment for schizoaffective disorder typically involves a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and life skills training. Medications may include antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants. Psychotherapy may include individual therapy and family or group therapy. Life skills training can help improve social and vocational skills to enhance quality of life. Hospitalization may be necessary during crisis periods or severe symptoms, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered for adults who do not respond to other treatments.

Coping and Support

Living with schizoaffective disorder requires ongoing treatment and support. Coping strategies include learning about the disorder, paying attention to warning signs, joining support groups, and seeking social services assistance if needed. Avoiding recreational drugs, tobacco, and alcohol is important, as they can worsen symptoms or interfere with medications.

Preparing for Your Appointment

If you suspect you or a loved one may have schizoaffective disorder, it’s important to prepare for the appointment. Make a list of symptoms, personal information, medications, and questions to ask the doctor. Offer to accompany your loved one to the appointment to provide support and gather information firsthand.

What to Expect from Your Doctor

Your doctor will likely ask about symptoms, their duration, your functioning in daily life, thoughts of suicide, family history of mental health disorders, and any other medical conditions. Be prepared to answer these questions and any other concerns you may have.

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