Home Health A-Z What is Schizoaffective Disorder & how is it Different from Schizophrenia?

What is Schizoaffective Disorder & how is it Different from Schizophrenia?

Verified By Apollo Doctors June 3, 2021 2247 0
Schizoaffective Disorder
Schizoaffective Disorder


Schizoaffective disorder is a condition that manifests with the symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder. This condition affects men and women. However, young men are more vulnerable to schizoaffective disorder. It is rare and affects only 0.03% of the population. The exact cause of this condition is not known. Its treatment depends on the severity of the condition.

Schizoaffective Disorder

A patient with this condition experiences the symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder. It is unclear whether this condition is related more to schizophrenia or mood disorder. Doctors generally view it as a combination of both these conditions and prescribe treatment accordingly.

Types of Schizoaffective Disorder

There are two types of schizoaffective disorder.

  • Bipolar type: Patients with this type have both manic and depressive episodes. The characteristics of manic episodes are restlessness, insomnia, and irritability. The symptoms of depressive episodes are low energy, lack of motivation, and hopelessness.
  • Depressive type: In this type of schizoaffective disorder, patients only experience depressive episodes, characterized by a dull feeling, depression, and the inability to perform daily activities.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

The severity and presentation of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are unique to every patient. However, the defining features of this condition are: 

  • A major mood episode may be a manic episode or a depressive episode, and
  • Not less than two weeks of psychotic symptoms during which there should not be a major mood episode.

Some of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are:

  • Hallucination, i.e., seeing or listening to voices that do not exist. 
  • Depression symptoms, such as sadness, worthlessness, and lack of motivation.
  • Delusion includes false beliefs.
  • Inability to take care of personal hygiene
  • Speech and communication problems.
  • Sudden manic episodes.
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks at home, school, or office.

How is Schizoaffective Disorder Different from Schizophrenia?

Both schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia are psychiatric  conditions. However, the difference between them is that a patient with schizoaffective disorder presents with the symptoms of schizophrenia along with mood disorder. It is the reason why  schizoaffective disorder may be misdiagnosed as schizophrenia. The treatment for schizoaffective disorder includes antidepressants and antipsychotics. The doctor prescribes antipsychotics to patients with schizophrenia.

When to See a Doctor

If you notice the following characteristics in someone in your family or social group, you should encourage them to visit the psychiatrist .

  • If you sense that the person may attempt suicide (in such cases, you may also call the emergency number).
  • If the person has hallucinations or delusions.
  • If the person experiences episodes of mania and depression.

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

Causes of Schizoaffective Disorder

The exact cause of  schizoaffective disorder remains unknown. Researchers believe that the condition may be due to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Some studies also link the genetic and environmental factors with the causes of schizoaffective disorder.

Prevention of Schizoaffective Disorder

A person may not be able to prevent schizoaffective disorder. However, if the doctor diagnoses the condition early, the frequency of symptoms and hospitalization can be considerably reduced. It will reduce the chances of social isolation and the communication gap with friends and family members. It will also significantly lower the risk of suicide. 

Risk Factors for Schizoaffective Disorder

Certain factors increase the risk of schizoaffective disorder. These are:

  • Brain anatomy: Schizoaffective disorder is a psychiatric disorder involving the brain. People with alteration in brain anatomy and chemical imbalances are more vulnerable to developing the schizoaffective disorder.
  • Genetic causes: Researchers link  schizoaffective disorder to gene inheritance. The patient inherits the genes from the parents that increase their risk for developing schizoaffective disorder.
  • Environmental interferences: Environmental conditions also play a role in increasing the risk of schizoaffective disorder. Viral infections and stressful events may make the person more vulnerable to this condition.
  • Drug abuse: Some drugs, such as mind-altering drugs, increase the risk of schizoaffective disorder.
  • Family history: If a close relative suffers from schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, or mood disorder, you have an increased risk of developing the schizoaffective disorder.

Treatment of Schizoaffective Disorder

There are various treatment methods to manage the disorder. Some of them are:

  • Medication: The doctor may prescribe various medicines that will help manage the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder. The doctor may prescribe antipsychotics, antidepressants, and mood-stabilizing medications.
  • Psychotherapy: The doctor may suggest  individual psychotherapy and group psychotherapy. Through individual psychotherapy, patients get detailed information about their condition and learn to manage their symptoms. Group therapy facilitates the discussion of real-life problems and solutions in a group. It improves social skills and reduces the feeling of loneliness and isolation.
  • Social skills training: The management of schizoaffective disorder also involves developing a patient’s social skills. Social skills development training helps a patient interact with his/her family. It improves their ability to perform daily activities.
  • Employment support: It is essential to prepare the patient for jobs. It is essential to develop the vocational skills of patients with schizoaffective disorder and assist them in finding and holding down their jobs.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy: The doctor may prescribe this therapy when medications and psychotherapy fail to manage the symptoms. The doctor sends electric currents through the brain that may normalize the chemical imbalance.
  • Hospitalization: In severe conditions, doctors recommend hospitalization. It may be due to the suicidal tendencies of a patient or for adequate care and nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does the doctor diagnose schizoaffective disorder?

There are various ways to diagnose a schizoaffective disorder. The doctor may perform a physical examination of the patient and take information about his/her medical history. He may also ask questions based on a patient’s medical history. The doctor then recommends a CT scan or MRI and blood tests to rule out other diseases.

What is the long-term outlook for patients with a schizoaffective disorder?

The long-term outlook depends on the severity of the disease. Early diagnosis and management lower the risk of conditions worsening. Patients must take treatment for as long as needed since there is no definitive cure.

What should you do to prevent suicide in patients with a schizoaffective disorder?

It is important to take good care of patients with schizoaffective disorder due to increased suicidal behavior. If you notice that the patient tries to harm himself, call emergency. Further, take objects, such as knives, guns, etc., out of the patient’s reach. Stay with the patient and listen calmly to him. Avoid arguments and do not raise your voice .

Verified By Apollo Doctors
At Apollo, we believe that easily accessible, reliable health information can make managing health conditions an empowering experience. AskApollo Online Health Library team consists of medical experts who create curated peer-reviewed medical content that is regularly updated and is easy-to-understand.

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