Now accepting Medi-Cal   Check coverage

Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health disorder that can cause changes in a person’s thoughts, mood, and behavior. While individuals with schizoaffective disorder can struggle with psychosis and periodic mood issues, symptoms can be managed with the support of a therapist and medication.

What Is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder has characteristics of schizophrenia and mood disorders like bipolar disorder and depression. A client with schizoaffective disorder may struggle with thinking, perception of reality, sense of self, energy levels, mood, and behavior. Much like schizophrenia, most signs of schizoaffective disorder appear in late adolescence and early adulthood. 

The most common signs of schizoaffective disorder include changes in:

  • Mood
  • Thinking patterns
  • Behavior
  • Speech
  • Emotional expression


Table of Contents

Moreover, there are two major types of schizoaffective disorder based on the condition’s co-occurring mood disorder. The two major types of schizoaffective disorder are bipolar disorder type and depressive type. 

Bipolar Disorder Type:

  • Manic episodes are known as highs:
    • High energy
    • Increased activity
    • Irritability
    • Restlessness
    • Insomnia 
    • Reckless behavior
  • Depressive episodes are known as lows:
    • Low energy
    • Decreased activity
    • Depressive emotions
    • Struggle to complete everyday tasks

Depressive Type:

  • Depressive episodes with feelings of:
    • Hopelessness
    • Sadness
    • Worthlessness
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory issues

Schizoaffective Disorder Statistics

As a disorder, schizoaffective disorder is often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder because it shares most of the same psychotic characteristics of schizophrenia and the manic or depressive characteristics of a mood disorder.

While schizoaffective disorder is one of the most frequently misdiagnosed disorders, the condition is relatively rare, with a lifetime prevalence of 0.3%. Similar to schizophrenia, young men and women are diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at the same rate in late adolescents and early adulthood. However, sharing another characteristic of schizophrenia, young men are more likely to start exhibiting symptoms earlier in late adolescents compared to young women.

A research study in Finland suggests that only 3 in 1,000 people experience schizoaffective symptoms. Compared to the 1 in 300 people diagnosed with schizophrenia worldwide, schizoaffective disorder is more uncommon. In addition, schizoaffective disorder is also less common than mood disorders like bipolar disorder and depression. 

Potential Causes:

  • Genetics
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Increased risk with certain viral infections
  • Brain chemistry and structure
  • Significant stress
  • Emotional trauma
  • Substance use disorder (SUD)

Why Is Treatment for Schizoaffective Disorder Important?

Untreated or undiagnosed mental health disorders can make life more difficult to manage. If you are struggling with untreated schizoaffective disorder, you may find it hard to complete everyday tasks, function at school or work, maintain healthy relationships, and find joy in your life. With the support of a mental health care team, skill building, and medication management, you can manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life. Working with a therapist can support you in building the necessary skills to develop coping strategies, adaptive functioning, and healthier relationships. Since schizoaffective disorder is a lifelong condition, it is important to invest in treatment for your mental health, self-care, and relationships for your long-term wellness and happiness.

What Does Schizoaffective Disorder Feel Like?

Symptoms of schizoaffective disorder fall under two major categories:

  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Mood symptoms

The psychotic symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are similar to the psychosis of schizophrenia symptoms. Psychotic symptoms can leave you feeling extreme versions of normal emotions like confusion, fear, anger, depression, and excitement. At the same time, the mood symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are based on whether your mood disorder falls under bipolar disorder type or depressive type. If you have bipolar disorder type, you will experience manic and depressive episodes. However, if you have the depressive type, you will only experience depressive episodes.

Examples of Psychotic Symptoms Include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased motivation
  • Thought disorder
  • Movement disorder
  • Disorganized speech
  • Lack of emotional expression

Examples of Mood Symptoms Include:

  • Manic symptoms:
    • Extreme excitement
    • Risky behavior
    • Easily distracted
    • Agitated
    • Racing thoughts
    • Rapid speech
    • Sleeplessness
  • Depressive symptoms:
    • Low or depressive mood
    • Suicidal ideation
    • Decreased energy
    • Difficulties interacting 
    • Concentration issues
    • Sleep issues
    • Loss of appetite
    • Intensive feelings of:
      • Sadness
      • Worthlessness
      • Hopelessness
      • Emptiness
      • Disinterest

What Makes Our Program Unique?

At Mindfuli, our programs take a therapeutic alliance approach to care. We believe mental health disorders should not be a barrier to living a purposeful and fulfilling life. Disorders like schizoaffective disorder are lifelong conditions that can diminish the quality of your life without support and treatment. At Mindfuli, our services are dedicated to treating the whole person. While medication management is an integral part of the treatment of schizoaffective disorder, we know having a mental health care team to help you build skills to manage your daily life is fundamental to your long-term well-being. Our comprehensive team of therapists and care counselors can support you in a care model built specifically for you and your needs.

The Therapeutic Alliance:

  • Agreement of goals
  • Assigning tasks
  • Developing a bond

Evidence-Based Practices:

  • Motivational interviewing
  • Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Assertive community treatment (ACT)
  • Psychoeducation
  • Virtual groups

Getting Help

If you feel like you are experiencing symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, asking for help is the first step toward stability and lifelong wellness. Schizoaffective disorder can make everyday tasks difficult or impossible to manage. The psychotic and mood disorder symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can take a toll on you, your relationships, and your work or school life. 

Seeking treatment for schizoaffective disorder is the best way to manage your symptoms, care for yourself, and build the healthy life you deserve. There are proven therapeutic methods that can support you in building the necessary skills to function in your day-to-day life and raise your quality of life in the long term. Our therapeutic alliance-focused and evidence-based practices can help you in building a foundation of care to support lifelong wellness.

Schizoaffective disorder can make everyday tasks difficult, but treatment and support can help. At Mindfuli, our evidence-based practices can support you in the development of long-term wellness. Call us today at 866.714.8913 to learn how virtual therapy can help you.

We've got you covered!

It gets much better from here. Get 1:1 help that works, and lasts — from the best in online therapy and psychiatry.

Verification of Benefits


Email VOB to  

Include the following:

  • Client Name
  • DOB
  • Client Address
  • Insurance Name
  • ID # 
  • Insurance Phone Number
  • Subscriber Name and Relationship
  • Referred By (Treatment Center)
  • Copy of the Insurance Card if available