Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective Disorder is a mental health disorder marked by a combination of Schizophrenia symptoms (hallucinations or delusions) and mood disorder symptoms (depression or mania).

The two types of Schizoaffective Disorder (both of which include some symptoms of schizophrenia) are:

  • Bipolar Type
    Which includes episodes of mania and sometimes major depression; and
  • Depressive Type
    Which includes only major depressive episodes.

Untreated Schizoaffective Disorder can lead to problems functioning with daily living (work, school and social situations) causing loneliness and trouble holding down a job or attending school. Treatment can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.


People with the condition experience psychotic symptoms (hallucinations/delusions, as well as symptoms of a mood disorder (bipolar type – episodes of mania and sometimes depression) or depressive type (episodes of depression).

Although the development and course of Schizoaffective disorder may vary, defining features include a major mood episode (depressed or manic mood) and at least a two-week period of psychotic symptoms when a major mood episode is not present.

Signs and symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder — bipolar or depressive type — and may include the following:

  • Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs, despite evidence to the contrary;
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that are not there;
  • Impaired communication and speech (incoherent);
  • Bizarre or unusual behavior;
  • Symptoms of depression (feeling empty, sad or worthless);
  • Periods of manic mood, with an increase in energy and a decreased need for sleep over several days and behaviors that are out of character;
  • Impaired occupational, academic and social functioning; and
  • Problems with managing personal care, including cleanliness and physical appearance.

Suicidal Thoughts or Behavior

Talk of suicide or suicidal behavior may occur in someone with Schizoaffective Disorder. If you have a loved one who is in danger of attempting suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.


The exact causes of Schizoaffective Disorder are still being investigated; however, genetics are likely a factor.

Risk factors

Factors that increase the risk of developing Schizoaffective Disorder include:

  • Having a close blood relative (parent or sibling) who has Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder;
  • Stressful events that may Trigger Symptoms; and
  • Taking mind-altering drugs, which may worsen symptoms when an underlying disorder is present.


People with Schizoaffective Disorder are at an increased risk of:

  • Suicide, Suicide Attempts or Suicidal Thoughts;
  • Social Isolation;
  • Family and Interpersonal Conflicts;
  • Unemployment;
  • Anxiety Disorders;
  • Alcohol or Other Substance Use Problems;
  • Significant Health Problems; and
  • Poverty and Homelessness.

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