Schizoaffective disorder

Explains what schizoaffective disorder is, including its symptoms and causes. Gives advice on how you can help yourself and what types of treatment and support are available, as well as guidance for friends and family.

What is schizoaffective disorder?

Some people have suggested that schizoaffective disorder sits in the middle of a continuum, with schizophrenia at one end and bipolar disorder at the other. However, schizoaffective disorder is recognised as a separate diagnosis to both schizophrenia and bipolar, despite sharing many similar symptoms.

The word schizoaffective has two parts:

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition where symptoms of both psychotic and mood disorders are present together, or within a two week period of each other, during one episode.

You might have times when you struggle to look after yourself or when your doctors consider that you lack insight into your behaviour and how you are feeling. But you may also have times between episodes where you feel well too.

Episodes can vary in length. Some people have repeated episodes but this does not necessarily happen for everybody. Symptoms usually start when you are a young adult.

Schizoaffective disorder and Me

"Things started having secret meanings and I was convinced I could see into the future."

Types of schizoaffective disorder

Both psychotic and mood disorder symptoms are present in schizoaffective disorder and, just as there is more than one type of mood disorder, there is more than one type of schizoaffective disorder:

  • Manic type: In this type you have both psychotic and manic symptoms occurring within one episode.
  • Depressive type: In this type you have both psychotic and depressive symptoms occurring at the same time during an episode.
  • Mixed type: In this type you have psychotic symptoms with both manic and depressive symptoms. However, the psychotic symptoms are independent and not necessarily related to the bipolar disorder symptoms.

This information was published in May 2019. We will revise it in 2022.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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