Schizoaffective Disorder

Learning about Schizoaffective Disorder

If you have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder or your friend, relative or partner has, then this is the best section for you to start browsing. Here you will find information on schizoaffective disorder that will help you to understand more about the condition. Below you will find a short summary of what schizoaffective disorder actually is and to the left of this page is a menu detailing the more specific elements of schizoaffective disorder. Have a look at this first if you are new to this condition and need to familiarise yourself with different aspects of the illness.

If you are a carer: in addition to reading the material on schizoaffective disorder produced in this section of the web site, you might also like to read information written specifically for carers and friends. If you have a mental illness, browse through this section on schizoaffective disorder. Because this mental illness has symptoms from across a wide spectrum of conditions, it may also help you to consult the relevant sections on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

You can also go directly to the consumer section which deals with treatment and recovery processes.

What is schizoaffective disorder?

The term schizoaffective disorder was coined by Dr Jacob Kasanin in 1933. Since that time the definition of the disorder has changed a number of times making research into it difficult and confusing both people with the disorder and doctors. Schizoaffective Disorder is a perplexing but chronic mental illness characterised by a combination of symptoms. It is a disorder in which mood swings, similar to those found in bipolar disorder are present together with symptoms of schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, disorganised speech, disorganised behaviour and negative symptoms). The way it presents can change, at times appearing more to be schizophrenia, at other times more like bipolar disorder. As a consequence, schizoaffective disorder can seem confusing to both patients and doctors alike. It is often difficult to diagnose, manage and treat because there is increasing uncertainty whether it is a distinct variety of psychotic illness. It is not unusual for people living with schizoaffective disorder to be originally misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or acute depression. People living with schizoaffective disorder should therefore try and find out as much as possible about the illness in order to be equipped with the most recent information.

There are two recognised sub-types of schizoaffective disorder:

  1. Schizoaffective bipolar type – where symptoms include manic episodes or manic and depressive episodes
  2. Schizoaffective depressive type – where the symptoms include depressive episodes only.

It is often difficult to diagnose schizoaffective disorder because it comprises of symptoms that are share with other conditions. Distinguishing schizoaffective disorder from schizophrenia and mood disorder with psychotic features is often difficult and can only occur over a period of time.