Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health condition characterized by symptoms of both schizophrenia (psychosis) and mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or other depressive disorders. As a result of its overlap with these other conditions, schizoaffective disorder can be difficult to recognize, which often results in people with this disorder being under-treated.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder results in two major categories of symptoms: psychotic symptoms, which affect your ability to distinguish reality, and mood-related symptoms.

Psychotic Symptoms

Psychotic symptoms are symptoms that primarily affect your ability to distinguish what is real from what is not. Psychotic symptoms may impact how you think about and interact with the world around you. Psychotic symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Unorganized thoughts
  • Unusual movement

Hallucinations are false perceptions, meaning that people with hallucinations may hear sounds or voices that aren’t there, see images or visions that aren’t there, feel sensations that aren’t there, or experience other false sensations. Delusions are strongly held false beliefs. For example, delusions may include the beliefs that one can read others’ thoughts, that family members have been replaced by imposters, or that one is a reincarnation of an important person.

Unorganized thoughts are another common symptom. People with schizoaffective disorder may suddenly switch or drop topics or casually use words that are not real. Unusual movement may include repetitive or stiff movements.

Mood-Related Symptoms

Mood-related symptoms affect one’s emotions and affect. People with schizoaffective disorder may experience depressive episodes, including the following symptoms:

  • Persistent low mood, including apathy, emptiness, or anxiety
  • Loss of interest in things you were previously interested in
  • Poor memory, concentration, and focus
  • Low or no motivation

Some people with schizoaffective disorder additionally experience manic episodes, including the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of extreme happiness
  • “Bursts” of perceived productivity and abilities
  • Rapid talking
  • Increased irritability
  • Feelings of hurriedness of being “sped up”
  • Decreased sleepiness 

Depending on how mood-related symptoms present, schizoaffective disorder may be diagnosed as one of two subtypes. People with schizoaffective disorder who only experience depressive episodes are diagnosed with depressive-type schizoaffective disorder. Those who experience both depressive and manic episodes are diagnosed with bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder.

Mood-related symptoms can be serious for people with schizoaffective disorder. With treatment, depressive and manic episodes can become manageable. 

Schizoaffective Disorder Statistics

According to the National Library of Medicine, schizoaffective disorder affects three of every 1,000 people. Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, and 30% of people diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder are aged 25 to 35. 

Why Is Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment Important?

Schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental illness that may cause people with the disorder to suffer unnecessarily. As a result of depressive episodes, people with schizoaffective disorder may experience suicidal thoughts and struggle to maintain work or schooling. Many people with this disorder report feeling isolated and may face difficulties maintaining essential facets of their life.

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder is an effective way to manage symptoms and increase your quality of life. By seeking help, people with schizoaffective disorder can build support networks, learn strategies to care for themselves, and create a happier, healthier future.

Getting Help at Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention

Treatment doesn’t begin and end with addressing a single problem. At Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention, those in our CSU have access to a wide variety of scientifically-backed treatment modalities, including the following:

  • Medication management: Our staff assists with the management and organization of your existing prescriptions to ensure they work effectively for you.
  • Whole-person wellness: Treatment plans account for each person as a whole. We work with you to ensure that your care covers the most important aspects of your life.
  • Recovery and safety planning: We work with clients to establish a complete, individualized plan for their recovery and safety.
  • Support services: While in our CSU, clients have access to a variety of specialized treatments, including acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). 
  • Family and community support: To ensure that each person has access to a vital safety net of support and care, treatment includes working to secure access to family and community support.
  • Nutrition and recreation services: Allow our CSU to be a home away from home. Clients receive support for both nutritional and recreational needs. 

Schizoaffective disorder is a disorder characterized by psychosis and mood difficulties. People with schizoaffective disorder may experience hallucinations and delusions and struggle to communicate with others. It may be difficult to organize your life, stay motivated, and maintain relationships with the people in your life. 

Located in the College Area of San Diego, Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can guide you to recovery. In our Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU), clients receive individualized care designed for their specific needs and life experiences. Our highly-educated and empathetic staff are trained in many treatment modalities to serve your needs and create a recovery plan. 

With Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention, you can access a safe environment, identify your challenges and goals, and receive top-notch care and support. Learn to manage your schizoaffective disorder and gain access to the treatment that you need. To learn more about our program, call us at (619) 457-4613.