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.
Schizoaffective disorder is not as well understood or well defined as other mental health conditions. This is largely because schizoaffective disorder is a mix of mental health conditions including schizophrenic and mood disorder features that may run a unique course in each affected person.
Untreated, people with schizoaffective disorder may lead lonely lives and have trouble holding down a job or attending school. Or, they may rely heavily on family or live in supported living environments, such as group homes. Treatment can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with schizoaffective disorder.
Schizoaffective disorder symptoms vary from person to person. People who have the condition experience psychotic symptoms — such as hallucinations or delusions — as well as a mood disorder. The mood disorder is either bipolar disorder (bipolar-type schizoaffective disorder) or depression (depressive-type schizoaffective disorder).
Psychotic features and mood disturbances may occur at the same time or may appear on and off interchangeably. The course of schizoaffective disorder usually features cycles of severe symptoms followed by a period of improvement, with less severe symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include, among others:
Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs
Hallucinations, such as hearing voices
Major depressed mood episodes
Possible periods of manic mood or a sudden increase in energy and behavioral displays that are out of character