Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental illness that has features of two different conditions
— schizophrenia, and an affective (mood) disorder that may be diagnosed as either major
depression or bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses
emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. Depression is an illness that is marked by
feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness, as well as problems concentrating and
remembering details. Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycling mood changes, including
severe highs (mania) and lows (depression).
Schizoaffective disorder is a lifelong illness that can impact all areas of daily living, including
work or school, social contacts, and relationships. Most people with this illness have periodic
episodes, called relapses, when their symptoms surface. While there is no cure for
schizoaffective disorder, symptoms often can be controlled with proper treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder?
A person with schizoaffective disorder has severe changes in mood and some of the psychotic
symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking.
Psychotic symptoms in schizoaffective disorder occur even when mood symptoms are no
longer present, and reflect the person’s inability to tell what is real from what is imagined.
Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may vary greatly from one person to the next and may be
mild or severe. Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include: