Schizoaffective disorder

General or Other | Psychiatry | Schizoaffective disorder (Disease)


Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental illness that has features of two different conditions, schizophrenia and an affective (mood) disorder, either major depression or bipolar disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is a life-long 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.

Causes and Risk factors

While the exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is not known, researchers believe that genetic, biochemical and environmental factors are involved.

Schizoaffective disorder usually begins in the late teen years or early adulthood, often between the ages of 16 and 30. It seems to occur slightly more often in women than in men and is rare in children.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are present, the doctor will perform a complete medical history and physical exam.

Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose schizoaffective disorder, the doctor may use various tests - such as X-rays or blood tests - to rule out a physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

Schizoaffective disorder is best treated with both psychotherapy and appropriate medication. This disorder largely consists of both a thought disorder and a mood disorder. This combination can make treatment especially difficult, because the individual can be very depressed and suicidal, but refuse to take medication because of an irrational fear or paranoia (a symptom of the thought disorder). Treatment of someone with this disorder is often challenging and rarely boring for the treatment team. ...