Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health condition that is marked by a mix of schizophrenia symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, and mood disorder symptoms, such as depression, mania and a milder form of mania called hypomania. Hallucinations involve seeing things or hearing voices that others don't observe. Delusions involve believing things that are not real or not true.

The two types of schizoaffective disorder — both of which include some symptoms of schizophrenia — are:

  • Bipolar type, which includes bouts of hypomania or mania and sometimes major depression.
  • Depressive type, which includes only major depressive bouts.

Schizoaffective disorder may affect people differently.

Schizoaffective disorder changes how people think, feel and act. When it isn't treated, the condition can make it hard to function at work or school or in social settings. It also can cause loneliness. People with schizoaffective disorder may need help and support to live their daily lives. Treatment can help manage symptoms and make quality of life better.


Schizoaffective disorder symptoms may vary from person to person. People with the condition have psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. They also can have symptoms of a mood disorder. This type of schizophrenia could be the bipolar type, which features bouts of mania and sometimes depression. Or it could be the depressive type, which features bouts of depression.

How schizoaffective disorder starts and how it affects people may vary. But defining features include a major bout of depressed or manic mood and at least a two-week period of psychotic symptoms when mood symptoms are not present.

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder depend on the type — bipolar or depressive. Symptoms may include:

  • Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs, despite facts showing that they're not true.
  • Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that others don't observe.
  • Disorganized thinking and speech.
  • Bizarre or unusual behavior.
  • Symptoms of depression, such as feeling empty, sad or worthless.
  • Periods of manic mood, with more energy and less need for sleep over several days, and behaviors that are out of character.
  • Having a hard time functioning at work or school or in social situations.
  • Problems managing personal care, such as not looking clean and not taking care in how one looks.

When to see a doctor

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

If you're concerned about a loved one's safety or ability to get food, clothing or shelter, you may need to contact emergency responders, a mental health hotline or a social service agency to get help from a mental health professional.

Suicidal thoughts or behavior

A person with schizoaffective disorder may talk about or attempt suicide. If you have a loved one who is in danger of suicide or has attempted suicide, make sure someone stays with that person. Contact a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential. The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline in the U.S. has a Spanish language phone line at 1-888-628-9454 (toll-free).


While it isn't known what causes schizoaffective disorder, genes that are passed down through families likely play a part.

Risk factors

Factors that raise the risk of developing schizoaffective disorder include:

  • Having a close blood relative, such as a parent or sibling, who has schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
  • Stressful events that may cause symptoms.
  • Taking mind-altering drugs, which may make symptoms worse when an underlying problem is present.


People with schizoaffective disorder are at a greater risk of:

  • Suicide, suicide attempts and thoughts about suicide.
  • Social isolation.
  • Conflicts with others and within families.
  • Unemployment.
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Alcohol or other substance misuse.
  • Health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke and obesity.
  • Being poor and not having a home.
  • Being assaulted.
  • Aggressive episodes, though people with schizoaffective disorder are more likely to be assaulted rather than assault others.

June 05, 2024
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