Schizoaffective Disorder

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective Disorder is a psychological condition that causes a large number of experiences, all of which originate in the brain of the person affected. Patients who suffer from schizoaffective disorder experience a mixture of symptoms from schizophrenia, mood disorders, mania, and depression.

While symptoms can be managed, the disorder is not completely understood. It is also not well defined in mental health texts, or in library books that you can check out to learn more about the condition. The reason that Schizoaffective disorder is not as understood as other mental disorders is because it is not a single disorder in itself. In truth, it is a mixture of mental health problems, including schizophrenia and various mood disorders. Along with these two main disorder, many other mental disorders and chemical imbalances can hide within it, making it more difficult to treat the symptoms.

Untreated schizoaffective disorder can cause serious damage to a person’s life. Many people with this disorder live very lonely lives, they stay in trouble frequently, they cannot maintain a job, and are unable to attend school regularly. The majority of untreated patients are supported by and live with family, in group homes, or treatment facilities. Because of their inability to control the world around them, and sometimes their own behavior, they rely heavily on other people to get through daily life.

Even though living with Schizoaffective disorder is not easy, with proper therapy, working with a psychiatrist to manage symptoms, and taking classes to learn important skills, life can greatly improve.

What are the Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder?

The symptoms experienced with schizoaffective disorder can vary greatly from person to person. The majority of people who have schizoaffective disorder suffer from psychotic symptoms, mood disorders, depression, and many other disorders can be mixed in as well.

Their behavior can be confusing at times because they can have psychotic features and disturbances in their mood at the same time. Other times, the two do not appear together, but instead work interchangeably.

Along with these symptoms, are not the only ones that someone who has schizoaffective disorder suffer from. They can suffer through cycles of severe symptoms that are followed by a period of time with no symptoms, or less symptoms.

The symptoms experienced by a large population of people who have schizoaffective disorder are:

  • Delusions, including having strong, false, beliefs
  • Hallucinations, a common one is hearing voices
  • Periods of time where they behave as though they are in a manic mood. During this time, they also display sudden, unexpected increases in energy and behave out of the ordinary.
  • An obvious impairment in occupational functioning and social functioning.
  • Problems with keeping clean, and maintaining physical appearance
  • Thoughts and ideas that are paranoid


Schizoaffective Disorder Causes

Schizoaffective disorder is widely recognized as a hereditary disorder. It tends to run in families and environmental factors tend to have little impact on how likely one is to end up with schizoaffective disorder. The exact relationship between genes and the expression of genes in schizoaffective disorder isn’t clear, but there are several promising leads. For example, it is widely known that schizoaffective disorder is most frequently seen in persons with abnormal alleles of dopamine receptor genes. This often results in the distinct combination of symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorders that seems to characterize schizoaffective disorder.

Gene expression appears to play an important role in the development of schizoaffective disorder. Many persons with schizoaffective disorder were born to mothers who suffered extreme illness or trauma while pregnant. This can result in serious consequences for the individual’s mental health overall long before schizoaffective disorder develops.

How is Schizoaffective Disorder Treated?

People who suffer from schizoaffective disorder respond best to a combination of treatments. Usually, the best treatment is counseling, and a combination of medication. The combination of medication that works best depends on the individual and the partner disorders they have.

Possible medications their doctor will try are antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants. Their doctor may also refer them to psychotherapy and counseling. Some patients also benefit from family counseling.

Schizoaffective Disorder Prevention

The prevention of schizoaffective disorder appears to focus primarily on finding ways to reduce the number of schizoaffective births. The methods used to help prevent schizoaffective disorder include genetic screenings and X-Ray scans throughout the entire pregnancy. This enables the parents to understand the condition of the baby before the baby is born. In some countries, such as Iran or Iceland, there are special programs to help mothers decide which course of action is best taken in order to guarantee that their children do not suffer from any congenital disorders. These programs have eliminated some disorders altogether, and they are certainly effective at reducing rates of schizoaffective disorder. Genetic expression is a new area of research within schizoaffective disorder circles and it is promising. Controlling the expression of dopamine receptor genes may one day give people with this disorder a fighting chance before the disease is able to gain a foothold.

Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
November 02, 2017