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Schizoaffective Disorder

By

Carol Tamminga

, MD, UT Southwestern Medical Dallas

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020

Schizoaffective disorder is characterized by the presence of mood symptoms, such as depression or mania, plus the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.

Psychosis refers to symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speech, and bizarre and inappropriate motor behavior (including catatonia) that indicate loss of contact with reality.

Doctors consider schizoaffective disorder when people have both psychosis and mood symptoms (such as depression or mania). The mood symptoms should be present for more than half of the total duration of illness and occur with two or more of the following symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Grossly disorganized behavior
  • Negative symptoms (showing little or no emotion, decreased speech, inability to feel pleasure, lack of interest in relationships with other people)

For doctors to differentiate schizoaffective disorder from schizophrenia and mood disorders, they may need to do a long-term assessment of the person's symptoms and the nature of their progression.

Treatment

  • Often a combination of  drugs, psychotherapy, and community support

Because schizoaffective disorder often leads to long-term disability, people often require comprehensive treatment, including antipsychotic drugs, psychotherapy, and community support.

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