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Schizoaffective disorder

  • Symptoms

    The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are different in each person. Often, people with schizoaffective disorder seek treatment for problems with mood, daily function, or abnormal thoughts.

    Psychosis and mood problems may occur at the same time, or by themselves. The course of the disorder may involve cycles of severe symptoms followed by improvement.

    The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can include:

    • Changes in appetite and energy
    • Disorganized speech that is not logical
    • False beliefs (delusions), such as thinking someone is trying to harm you (paranoia) or thinking that special messages are hidden in common places (delusions of reference)
    • Lack of concern with hygiene or grooming
    • Mood that is either too good, or depressed or irritable
    • Problems sleeping
    • Problems with concentration
    • Sadness or hopelessness
    • Seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations)
    • Social isolation
    • Speaking so quickly that others cannot interrupt you

    Signs and tests

    Your health care provider will do a psychiatric evaluation to find out about your behavior and symptoms. You may be referred to a psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis.

    To be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, you must have psychotic symptoms during a period of normal mood for at least 2 weeks.

    The combination of psychotic and mood symptoms in schizoaffective disorder can be seen in other illnesses, such as bipolar disorder. Extreme disturbance in mood is an important part of schizoaffective disorder.

    Your health care provider should consider and rule out medical, psychiatric, and drug-related conditions that cause psychotic or mood symptoms before making a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. For example, psychotic or mood disorder symptoms can occur in people who:

    • Abuse cocaine, amphetamines, or phencyclidine (PCP)
    • Have seizure disorders
    • Take steroid medications