A Closer Look at Schizoaffective Disorder

Most people have heard of bipolar disorder, or manic depression as it used to be known, but you could be forgiven for never having heard of its closely related cousin, schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is almost like an amalgamation of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia – in fact it was once thought that schizoaffective disorder was actually an unlucky coincidence of two different disorders. Now, however, schizoaffective disorder is recognised as a disorder in its own right.

Schizoaffective disorder consists of the symptoms of mania, hypomania, depression, mixed states, hallucinations, delusions and thought disorder. Unlike bipolar disorder, people with schizoaffective disorder can be psychotic (experiencing hallucinations and delusions) outside of mood episodes – in fact this is one of the defining criteria of schizoaffective disorder.

Around 1 in 200 people suffer with schizoaffective disorder – that’s 0.5% of the population worldwide. More women tend to be affected by schizoaffective disorder than men, and the age of onset is typically between the ages of 16 and 30 – although people have been known to develop the disorder earlier or later in their lifetime.

Schizoaffective disorder is treated with a combination of medications – antidepressants, mood stabilisers and antipsychotics. Therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy can also be helpful in treating people with schizoaffective disorder.

In future blogs, I’ll be looking at the symptoms of mania, depression, mixed states and psychosis, providing an insider’s view of these states. Check back next week for the first of these posts: Mania: a view from the inside.