Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition in which a person experiences a combination of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions and mood disorder symptoms, such as mania or depression.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include:

  • Strange or unusual thoughts or perceptions
  • Paranoid thoughts and ideas
  • Delusions, having false, fixed beliefs
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices
  • Unclear or confused thoughts (disorganized thinking)
  • Bouts of depression
  • Manic mood or a sudden increase in energy and behavioural displays that are uncharacteristic
  • Irritability
  • Problems with attention and memory
  • Lack of concern about hygiene and physical appearance
  • Changes in energy and appetite
  • Sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

Causes / Physiology

Schizoaffective disorder, like schizophrenia, appears to have distinct genetic links. It's unknown exactly what causes the disorder, but it may involve brain chemistry, such as an imbalance of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters, chemicals that help relay electronic signals in the brain and help regulate mood. Exposure in the womb to toxins or viral illness, or even birth complications, also may play a role.

Treatments

People with schizoaffective disorder generally respond best to a combination of medications and counselling. Treatment varies depending on the type and severity of symptoms. In general, doctors prescribe medications to relieve psychotic symptoms, stabilize mood and treat depression. In addition, psychotherapy can help normalize thought patterns, teach social skills and reduce social isolation.

Related Links

HeretoHelp (a project of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Information): www.heretohelp.bc.ca

Mayo Clinic: www.MayoClinic.com