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
  • Impaired occupational and social functioning
  • Problems with cleanliness and physical appearance
  • Paranoid thoughts and ideas

When to see a doctor

If you think someone you know may have schizoaffective disorder symptoms, talk to that person about your concerns. Although you can't force someone to seek professional help, you can offer encouragement and support and help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health provider.

Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Expression of suicidal thoughts or behavior may occur in someone with schizoaffective disorder. If you have a loved one who is in danger of committing suicide or has made a suicide attempt, make sure someone stays with that person. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Or, if you think you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Jan. 25, 2014

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