Schizoaffective disorder is a complex serious mental illness that shares features of both schizophrenia and mood disorders. It is often a misdiagnosed and mistreated medical condition due to its complications.
According to the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder may experience persistent psychotic symptoms for at least a two-week period without mood-stabilizing issues.
To more easily differentiate the psychotic disorders, think of schizoaffective disorder as having both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A person with schizoaffective disorder will have symptoms of schizophrenia along with depressed or manic episodes that come with mood disorder symptoms.
Someone with bipolar disorder may experience manic episodes of psychosis and mood fluctuation. However, if psychosis and mood episodes always occur together, it’s a sign of a mood disorder with psychotic features.
Signs and Symptoms
Schizoaffective Disorder symptoms include:
- Delusional thinking
- Hallucinations, often visual and auditory
- Disordered thought and/or behavior
- Communication problems
- Disruptive moods, including mania and depression
- Lack of social or occupational function
These symptoms are often deeply distressing for those experiencing them. In particular, the psychotic disconnect innate to this disorder can lead to a fractured sense of reality, which in turn hinders the ability to fully relate to yourself, others, and the world.
Similarly, intense moods such as mania and major depressive episodes can disrupt day-to-day functioning. This, in turn, can be so upsetting that it causes self-destructive behavior and more intense psychological suffering.
Combined, these symptoms can prevent healthy social and emotional functioning, hinder the ability to function normally in everyday life and cause profound feelings of isolation and helplessness.