Schizoaffective disorder is a rare type of psychosis (2023)

Schizoaffective disorder is a psychiatric illness characterized by a combination of psychotic features and mood symptoms. This disorder can be difficult to control. It is also confusing and distressing for friends and family who are caring for a person living with this condition.

A person suffering from this disorder can have a better quality of life with better symptom control once the condition is diagnosed and treated with medication and therapy.


Schizoaffective disorder has a combination of characteristics ofschizophreniaEmood swings. This means that a person hasPsychosis, comhallucinationsEdelusions, like thisclinical depressionI'm crazy.

Schizoaffective disorder is formally defined by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the disease classification system used by psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

A diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is made when a person has aall fourof the following criteria (A, B, C and D):

A: An episode in which a person has a severe mood episode along with two of the following schizophrenia symptoms:

  1. delusions (false beliefs)
  2. hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there)
  3. very disorganized language
  4. Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
  5. Negative symptoms, such as decreased emotional expression

B: Hallucinations and delusions for two or more weekswhich mood symptoms

C. Bipolar symptoms or depressive symptoms are presentmostlyin the course of the disease

D. Medical issues and substance use are not responsible for the symptoms

This condition usually develops during late adolescence or early adulthood and tends to cause symptoms throughout a person's life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with [name of illness], please contact theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline.no1-800-662-4357Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, visit ourNational Database of Support Lines.

The type

There are two types of schizoaffective disorder. They differ depending on the mood disorder associated with psychosis.

(Video) Schizoaffective Disorder?...What is it?

The two types are:

  • depressed face: This applies only if major depressive episodes are present.
  • bipolar type: This applies if manic episodes were present at any time during the illness. Depressive symptoms may also occur.

Similar conditions

Certain psychiatric disorders can cause mood swings and psychotic symptoms and be confused with schizoaffective disorders, including:

  • Psychotic Depression
  • Bipolar disorder with psychotic features
  • Schizophreniform Disorder
  • schizophrenia

The main distinction between schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder is that, in bipolar disorder, psychotic symptoms are only present during an active mood episode.


The condition affects about 3 in 1,000 people and is less common than schizophrenia, depression or bipolar disorder.

Schizoaffective disorder can lead to episodes of psychosis and mood swings that affect self-care and interactions with others.

everyday effects

A person living with schizoaffective disorder may experience episodes of psychosis, depression, and mania. The disorder can make it difficult to get along with others and often affects a person's ability to hold a job and carry out daily tasks.

Some consequences of this disease are:

  • detachment from reality: A person with this condition believes things that are different from what everyone around them believes. While not always the case, hallucinations and delusions can have a theme of persecution or paranoia.
  • Isolation: Schizoaffective disorder can cause a person to withdraw from others, either because of paranoia or apathy. This can lead to long periods of isolation.
  • Rejection:A person living with schizoaffective disorder may have episodes of diminished self-care and appear that others find frightening or unacceptable during these times. Additionally, people with this disorder may speak irrationally, either because of psychosis or mania. This can lead to rejection from others and put a person suffering from this condition at risk.

This condition increases the risk of self-harm, homelessness, and untreated health problems.


If you think you or someone you care about may have schizoaffective disorder, it's important to be kind, compassionate and seek professional help.

Many people have heard of schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder - but the term schizoaffective disorder is not well known and can sometimes create confusion for patients and families, potentially delaying diagnosis and treatment.

Seeking adequate psychiatric help is the best way to lessen the impact of the disorder and improve the lives of everyone involved.

You can start by contacting your GP, who can ask for details about your symptoms and possible medical issues, and can refer you to a psychiatrist. Talking with a psychiatrist will help you describe your feelings and thoughts in more detail.

If you or a loved one is struggling with schizoaffective disorder, contactSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline.no1-800-662-4357Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, visit ourNational Database of Support Lines.

(Video) Schizoaffective Disorder


A schizoaffective disorder cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Treatment includes psychotherapy and prescription medications. Medications can include antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers.

Hospital admission is sometimes required for severe episodes. While you may continue to have a few breakouts over the years, healthy relationships can help you live a happy life.


Like many psychiatric disorders, schizoaffective disorder is often misunderstood. This can make it confusing for people who have it and make it difficult for others to explain the condition.

Some common myths about the condition include:

Schizoaffective disorder is a split personality: The term “schizoid” means split and is often misinterpreted as a split personality. Although schizoaffective disorder can cause personality changes, it is distinct fromdissociative identity disorder(which is sometimes known as a "multiple" or "split" personality).

A schizoaffective disorder is the same as a histrionic personality:Histrionic Personality Disordercharacterized by highly dramatic and attention-grabbing emotional behavior. While people with histrionic personality disorder may say things that sound paranoid or highly emotional, people with this personality disorder do not experience hallucinations or delusions.

Schizoaffective Disorder Makes People Believe Conspiracy Theories:

Although those with schizoaffective disorder may have a variety of paranoid and delusional beliefs, many people are affected by them.whichPsychiatric disorders believe in conspiracy theories, and many with schizoaffective disorder do not agree with conspiracy theories.

A Word from Verywell

Living with schizoaffective disorder means facing many challenges. This condition can be difficult for the person who has the disorder and others around them to understand. It is important for a person with schizoaffective disorder to receive support from a multidisciplinary team of health professionals and receive as much social support as possible.

3 fonts

Verywell Health only uses quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to back up the facts in our articles. Read oureditorial processto learn more about how we verify our content and keep it accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Malaspina D, Owen MJ, Heckers S, et al.Schizoaffective Disorder in the DSM-5. schizophrenic nothing. 2013;150(1):21-25. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2013.04.026

  2. Genetics Home Reference.schizoaffective disorder.

  3. Joshi K., Lin J., Lingohr-Smith M., Fu DJ, Muser E.Patterns of treatment and adherence to antipsychotics among commercially insured patients with schizoaffective disorder in the United States.J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016;36(5):429-35.doi:10.1097/JCP.0000000000000549

(Video) Schizophrenia vs. Schizophreniform vs. Schizoaffective vs. Schizoid vs. Schizotypal

Schizoaffective disorder is a rare type of psychosis (1)

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(Video) Psychotic disorders


How rare is schizoaffective disorder? ›

Schizoaffective is relatively rare, with a lifetime prevalence of only 0.3%. Men and women experience schizoaffective disorder at the same rate, but men often develop the illness at an earlier age.

Is schizoaffective disorder the same as psychosis? ›

Schizoaffective Disorder is often confused with Bipolar Disorder with psychotic features. Both diagnosis include mood changes that impact life as well as symptoms of psychosis. A person diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder primarily experiences symptoms of psychosis even if mood problems don't exist.

What is schizoaffective disorder classified as? ›

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

How long does psychosis last in schizoaffective disorder? ›

To be called a schizoaffective episode, a person must have symptoms of psychosis (such as hallucinations or delusions) along with the symptoms of a mood disorder (such as depression or mania). Furthermore, there must be at least two episodes of psychotic symptoms, each lasting for at least two weeks.

Is schizoaffective disorder a severe disability? ›

Schizoaffective disorder is a severe mental health condition that can qualify for Social Security disability (SSDI or SSI) benefits.

What age does schizoaffective start? ›

What Is the Course of Schizoaffective Disorder? The disorder usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, often between the ages of sixteen and thirty. The severity of symptoms usually varies over time, at times requiring hospitalization for treatment.

Is schizoaffective disorder a psychotic illness? ›

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health problem where you experience psychosis as well as mood symptoms. The word schizoaffective has two parts: 'Schizo–' refers to symptoms of psychosis. '–Affective' refers to mood symptoms.

What triggers schizoaffective disorder? ›

Stressful or traumatic life events

You may be able to link the start of your symptoms to a very stressful period in your life, such as: Abuse or neglect. Experiencing a traumatic loss. Being out of work. Being bullied or harassed, including racism.

How long does it take to treat schizoaffective disorder? ›

There's no cure for schizoaffective disorder, but treatment can help. Research suggests almost half of affected individuals see their symptoms go into remission after five years. About 25% of people are able to function well socially for two-year stretches.

How does a schizoaffective person think? ›

Schizoaffective disorder has the features of schizophrenia, like hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking, along with those of a mood disorder, like mania and depression. At first, it's often misdiagnosed as one of the two.

Can trauma cause schizoaffective disorder? ›

Schizoaffective disorder isn't caused by any one event or gene, but there are several potential risk factors that can make you more likely to develop it, including: Trauma, especially in childhood. An imbalance in brain chemicals. A traumatic brain injury.

How do you deal with a schizoaffective person? ›

If someone is experiencing symptoms of psychosis, such as hearing voices, it may be helpful if you:
  1. Accept that the voices are real for them, even if you can't hear them.
  2. Focus on how they're feeling, rather than what they're experiencing.
  3. Help them manage their symptoms. For example, you could suggest distractions.

How hard is it to live with schizoaffective disorder? ›

Schizoaffective disorder can cause disabling symptoms, like hallucinations, delusions, depression, and mania. Living with this condition can cause difficulties at school or work, in the home, and in relationships.

Can schizoaffective cause brain damage? ›

Schizoaffective is known to cause severe memory loss, and researchers have determined that a pattern of brain activity may be the first sign of memory problems. Scientists have long believed that memory problems in schizoaffective stem from disruptions in the brain's dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

What is the best drug for schizoaffective disorder? ›

Antipsychotics. The only medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration specifically for the treatment of schizoaffective disorder is the antipsychotic drug paliperidone (Invega).

Is schizoaffective disorder violent? ›

Although most people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder are not violent, there is an association between psychotic disorders and violence, and with homicide in particular [1, 2].

Are people with schizoaffective disorder angry? ›

Some of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include: Behavioral symptoms: Inability to cry or express joy. Angry outbursts.

Are people with schizoaffective disorder intelligent? ›

Of 129 individuals with first-episode schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, 25% showed stable low IQ, 31% showed stable IQ in the average/high range, and 44% demonstrated intellectual deterioration by 10 points or more.

Can schizoaffective go away? ›

Schizoaffective disorder cannot be cured. However, if a patient is diagnosed early and starts treatment immediately, frequent relapses and hospitalizations can be avoided or ameliorated, and the patient will experience fewer disruptions in their life, family relationships, and friendships.

Does schizoaffective get worse with age? ›

Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder that may wax and wane in severity, but it does not typically worsen with age. 1 For some people, the symptoms of schizophrenia will improve over time while for others the symptoms will stay the same or get worse.

Is schizoaffective hard to treat? ›

Schizoaffective disorder is one of the more difficult mental health conditions because of such extreme symptoms of psychosis, mania, and depression. It is chronic and will never be cured, and treatment must be ongoing, even when the patient feels well again.

Can schizoaffective live without medication? ›

Schizoaffective disorder is debilitating and requires treatment. Unfortunately, individuals must use medication along with psychotherapy to manage their symptoms.

Do schizoaffective people have empathy? ›

There is one thing however that Schizoaffective disorder has never robbed me of, and that is the ability to feel empathy for others. Now when I see him everyday, it helps me to realize that having Schizoaffective disorder does not make me inhumane.

Does schizoaffective disorder affect memory? ›

In addition to these symptoms, nearly all people with schizoaffective disorder have some impairments in their memory, attention, and decision-making abilility. In addition to psychotic symptoms, individuals with schizoaf- fective disorder also experience mood episodes.

What is it like living with someone with schizoaffective disorder? ›

The lives of people with schizoaffective disorder are marked by uncertainty, unpredictability, and stress, and the longer they go without receiving medical assistance the more likely they are to experience significant personal, professional, and health-related hardships.

How debilitating is schizoaffective disorder? ›

Schizoaffective disorder is similarly severe and potentially debilitating. It is also a chronic mental illness that can impact all areas of a person's life.

Does schizoaffective lead to dementia? ›

Cognitive decline can eventually lead to dementia. A 2018 study suggests that people with schizophrenia have a nearly twofold increased risk of dementia after adjusting for other standard risk factors.

What are three signs of schizoaffective? ›

What are the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder?
  • Hallucinations. You may hear, see, or feel things that aren't there.
  • Delusions. You may believe things that aren't true.
  • Disorganised speech. ...
  • Disorganised behaviour. ...
  • Catatonic behaviour. ...
  • Negative symptoms.

Does schizoaffective disorder ever go away? ›

Schizoaffective disorder cannot be cured. However, if a patient is diagnosed early and starts treatment immediately, frequent relapses and hospitalizations can be avoided or ameliorated, and the patient will experience fewer disruptions in their life, family relationships, and friendships.

Is schizoaffective disorder for life? ›

The Outlook for Schizoaffective Disorder

This is considered to be a lifelong, chronic condition with no cure. That means that a recurrence of symptoms or mood episodes is always possible. However, many people experience fewer and less severe symptoms as they get older, especially approaching middle age.

Is schizoaffective violent? ›

Although most people with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder are not violent, there is an association between psychotic disorders and violence, and with homicide in particular [1, 2].

Is there any hope for people with schizoaffective disorder? ›

As a serious, chronic illness, schizoaffective disorder can be a discouraging diagnosis. On the bright side, however, there is hope for remission and a fulfilling life with proper medical treatment, therapy, and appropriate lifestyle choices.


1. Schizoaffective Disorder vs. Schizophrenia
(Michelle Mana)
2. What is the Difference Between Schizoaffective Disorder and Schizophrenia?
(Dr. Todd Grande)
3. Schizoaffective with Manic Tendencies (Bipolar, Delusions, and Paranoia)
(Special Books by Special Kids)
4. Schizoaffective Disorder
(Alexandr Balan M.D)
5. Man suffering psychotic episode left alone near highway by first responders
(CBS Evening News)
6. Schizoaffective Disorder
(Dr. Kerris Dillon)
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