Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder

symptoms of schizoaffective disorder

Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health condition that includes the symptoms of schizophrenia and a mood disorder. Individuals with this condition may experience hallucinations, delusions, and symptoms of mania or depression. Schizoaffective disorder is not a common mental illness, with a lifetime prevalence of only 0.3%.[1]

Often, people are misdiagnosed with either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder before discovering that they truly have schizoaffective disorder. This is because the symptoms of this condition present similarly to the two disorders. Treatment for schizoaffective disorder borrows many interventions from the treatment approaches of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder because of their similarities.

If you are worried that you or a loved one are suffering from schizoaffective disorder, being aware of the signs and symptoms of the condition can motivate you to get the help you need.

What are the Signs of Schizoaffective Disorder?

There are three main types of schizoaffective disorder: the manic type, the depressive type, and the mixed type. If you have the manic type, you will experience symptoms of schizophrenia and mania. The depressive type causes symptoms of schizophrenia and depression, while the mixed type includes schizophrenic, manic, and depressive symptoms.

The symptoms of schizophrenia that you will experience if you have schizoaffective disorder include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized speech
  • Disorganized behavior
  • Catatonic behavior
  • Lack of motivation or slow movement
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Poor grooming or hygiene habits
  • Difficulty planning and setting goals
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Reduced range of emotions
  • Less interest in socializing or partaking in hobbies
  • Lowered sex drive

If you have the symptoms of mania, you will experience the following:

  • Feeling overly active, energetic, or restless
  • Being more irritable than usual
  • Overconfidence
  • Talking very quickly and jumping from one idea to another
  • Racing thoughts
  • Feeling elated, even if things are not going well
  • Being easily distracted
  • Not needing much sleep and experiencing insomnia
  • Thinking you can do more than you can, leads to risky situations
  • Impulsive behavior, such as spending too much money, having risky sex, or abusing drugs and alcohol
  • Being more social than usual
  • Being argumentative or aggressive

If you have the symptoms of depression, you may experience:

  • Low mood
  • Having less energy or feeling “slowed down”
  • Being hopeless or negative
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless
  • Being less interested in things you normally like to do
  • Having a hard time concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Disruptions in sleeping patterns
  • Weight gain or loss due to changes in eating patterns
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

What Causes Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is more common when you have a family member who suffers from schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or bipolar disorder. This means that there may be a genetic component to the development of this condition.

Environmental factors can cause your first schizoaffective episode to begin. High levels of stress can be a sort of trigger for the condition, causing it to begin affecting your life. Examples of environmental factors that could trigger a schizoaffective episode include frequent arguments at home, work-related stress, and grief.

Some people believe that experiencing trauma as a child can be a factor in the condition developing later in life. Studies have found that people who experienced childhood adversities were 2.72 more likely to develop psychosis.[2]

Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is best treated by a professional mental health treatment program in an inpatient setting. If you attend one of these programs, you will receive a combination of medication, therapy, and life skills training. Treatment will vary depending on whether you experience the manic, depressive, or mixed type of schizoaffective disorder.


When you arrive at a mental health treatment facility, your doctor will assess whether you require medication. More often than not, medication will be required to relieve psychotic symptoms, stabilize your mood, and treat depression or mania. These symptoms can make it extremely difficult for you to function in your daily life and medication can provide you with the relief you need.

Types of medication used may include:

  • Antipsychotics – provide relief for psychotic symptoms like delusions and hallucinations
  • Mood stabilizers – help to level symptoms of mania and depression
  • Antidepressants – manage feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or difficulties with sleep and concentration


Medication is used to provide immediate relief for symptoms that prevent you from being able to function in your daily life. While this is extremely helpful in the treatment of a schizoaffective disorder, it does not teach you how to manage symptoms on your own. As a result, psychotherapy is an integral aspect of treatment.

Individual therapy can help you learn to normalize your thought patterns and reduce some of your symptoms. Some of the sessions will have a heavy focus on life planning, learning how to problem-solve, building healthy relationships, and adopting healthy coping strategies.

Group counseling and family therapy may also be provided during an inpatient program for schizoaffective disorder. Group therapy sessions allow you to discuss your real-life problems with others who are going through similar issues as you which can help reduce social isolation, provide a reality check during episodes of psychosis, and help you develop better social skills.

Life Skills Training

Many people with schizoaffective disorder struggle to cope with daily life, making it difficult for them to participate in seemingly normal social activities and obtain or maintain a job.

Mental health treatment programs provide life skills training to reduce isolation and improve your quality of life. It can also help you learn new skills and behaviors to improve your ability to participate in daily activities. Vocational rehabilitation is also provided to help you learn how to prepare for, find, and keep a job.

Get Mental Health Treatment Today

If you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, help is available. This condition can make it difficult for you to cope with daily life and cause alarming symptoms like delusions and hallucinations, but professional treatment can help you learn how to manage your symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.

At Florida Recovery Group, we offer a separate mental health program specifically for adults 18 and older who suffer from emotional and psychiatric health issues. Our team of mental health therapists and medical professionals will evaluate, diagnose and treat the root cause with compassion and empathy. Contact us today to learn more about how our mental health treatment center can help you.