Learn About Schizoaffective Disorder

What is the definition of Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental condition that causes both a loss of contact with reality (psychosis) and mood problems (depression or mania).

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What are the alternative names for Schizoaffective Disorder?

Mood disorder - schizoaffective disorder; Psychosis - schizoaffective disorder

What are the causes of Schizoaffective Disorder?

The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is unknown. Changes in genes and chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) may play a role.

Schizoaffective disorder is thought to be less common than schizophrenia and mood disorders. Women may have the condition more often than men. Schizoaffective disorder is rare in children.

What are the symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder?

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are different in each person. Often, people with schizoaffective disorder seek treatment for problems with mood, daily function, or abnormal thoughts.

Psychosis and mood problems may occur at the same time or by themselves. The disorder may involve cycles of severe symptoms followed by improvement.

The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can include:

  • Changes in appetite and energy
  • Disorganized speech that is not logical
  • False beliefs (delusions), such as thinking someone is trying to harm you (paranoia) or thinking that special messages are hidden in common places (delusions of reference)
  • Lack of concern with hygiene or grooming
  • Mood that is either too good, or depressed or irritable
  • Problems sleeping
  • Problems with concentration
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Social isolation
  • Speaking so quickly that others cannot interrupt you
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What are the current treatments for Schizoaffective Disorder?

Treatment can vary. In general, your provider will prescribe medicines to improve your mood and treat psychosis:

  • Antipsychotic medicines are used to treat psychotic symptoms.
  • Antidepressant medicines, or mood stabilizers, may be prescribed to improve mood.

Talk therapy can help with creating plans, solving problems, and maintaining relationships. Group therapy can help with social isolation.

Support and work training may be helpful for work skills, relationships, money management, and living situations.

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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Schizoaffective Disorder?

People with schizoaffective disorder have a greater chance of going back to their previous level of function than do people with most other psychotic disorders. But long-term treatment is often needed, and results vary from person to person.

What are the possible complications of Schizoaffective Disorder?

Complications are similar to those for schizophrenia and major mood disorders. These include:

  • Drug use
  • Problems following medical treatment and therapy
  • Problems due to manic behavior (for example, spending sprees, overly sexual behavior)
  • Suicidal behavior
When should I contact a medical professional for Schizoaffective Disorder?

Call your provider if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following:

  • Depression with feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Inability to care for basic personal needs
  • Increase in energy and involvement in risky behavior that is sudden and not normal for you (for instance, going days without sleeping and feeling no need for sleep)
  • Strange or unusual thoughts or perceptions
  • Symptoms that get worse or do not improve with treatment
  • Thoughts of suicide or of harming others

If you are thinking about hurting yourself or others, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides free and confidential support 24/7, anytime day or night.

You can also call 911 or the local emergency number or go to the hospital emergency room. DO NOT delay.

If someone you know has attempted suicide, call 911 or the local emergency number right away. DO NOT leave the person alone, even after you have called for help.

Schizoaffective disorder
What are the latest Schizoaffective Disorder Clinical Trials?
Network Mediation of Experiential and Expressive Deficits in Psychotic Disorders

Summary: The main purpose of this study is to learn how transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) helps improve negative symptoms of schizophrenia. These 'negative symptoms' include anhedonia (the inability to enjoy things), low motivation, and decreased facial expression. TMS is a noninvasive way of stimulating the brain. TMS uses a magnetic field to cause changes in activity in the brain. The magnetic fiel...

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Safety and Efficacy of BXCL501, a Sublingual Film Delivery of Dexmedetomidine for the Treatment of Acute Agitation in Schizophrenia

Summary: Agitation is characterized by excessive motor or verbal activity, irritability, uncooperativeness, threatening gestures, and, in some cases, aggressive or violent behavior. While agitation may have various underlying causes, patients with schizophrenia are especially vulnerable to acute episodes of agitation, especially during exacerbation of disease, and clinicians do not always diagnose these ep...

What are the Latest Advances for Schizoaffective Disorder?
Functional Outcomes in a Randomized Controlled Trial of Animal-Assisted Therapy on Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Schizophrenia.
Effects of Long-Term Deutetrabenazine Treatment in Patients with Tardive Dyskinesia and Underlying Psychiatric or Mood Disorders.
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Dexmedetomidine Orally Dissolving Film for Acute Agitation Associated with Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder: SERENITY I and SERENITY II Trials.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: April 30, 2022
Published By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

American Psychiatric Association. Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association, ed. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:87-122.

Freudenreich O, Brown HE, Holt DJ. Psychosis and schizophrenia. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 28.

Lyness JM. Psychiatric disorders in medical practice. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 369.