Definition of Schizoaffective disorder
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental condition that causes both a loss of contact with reality (psychosis) and mood problems.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The exact cause of schizoaffective disorder is unknown. Changes in genes and chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) may play a role. Some experts do not believe it is a separate disorder from schizophrenia.
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.
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.
Treatment can vary. In general, your health care provider will prescribe medications to improve your mood and treat psychosis.
People with schizoaffective disorder have a greater chance of going back to their previous level of function than do people with most other psychotic disorders. However, long-term treatment is often needed, and results can vary from person to person.
David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/7/2010