Have you ever heard of schizophrenia? Most likely, you have, but there is a good chance you have not heard of schizoaffective disorder. Many individuals often confuse these two disorders as being the same due to stigmas and lack of mental health education in schools. While they may sound similar, these disorders have distinguishing features. By understanding them, more people can get the help they need, and we can erase stigmas.

Schizoaffective Disorder

Those who struggle with schizoaffective disorder have a mental health condition that causes them to have hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and mood disorder symptoms. The presence of mood disorder symptoms is what distinguishes schizoaffective disorder from schizophrenia, as mood disorders are necessary to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

There are two types of schizoaffective disorder, including the bipolar type and depressive type. Bipolar type is characterized by episodes of mania with occasional periods of major depression. The depressive type only includes major depressive episodes. However, it is essential to understand that this disorder will affect each individual differently. Symptoms may differ as well as how severely it affects the person’s life.


Schizophrenia has many similar symptoms of schizoaffective disorder without the mixture of mood disorder symptoms. There are no episodes of mania or major depressive episodes like those that are diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. It is also classified as chronic, while schizoaffective disorder has episodes of psychotic symptoms. Often those with schizophrenia are more out of touch with reality and have difficulty interacting with others because of their symptoms.

Possible Treatments

Both disorders are often treated with antipsychotic drugs to help patients manage their hallucinations and delusions. However, schizoaffective disorder is typically treated with a mood stabilizer as well to help patients with their other symptoms. Talk therapy can also be used to help patients heal. If patients also struggle with substance abuse, dual diagnosis care can be a highly effective treatment.

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are often thought to be the same thing, and while they have many similar symptoms, they have distinguishing characteristics. Both include having delusions and hallucinations, but the schizoaffective disorder also typically involves mood disorder symptoms such as mania or major depressive episodes. Treatment is possible with antipsychotics for both, but mood stabilizers for the schizoaffective disorder are also normally prescribed. Alta Loma Transformational Services treats patients with both of these disorders as well as co-occurring substance abuse disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out and get help today. Call (866) 457-3843.

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Healing on Your Terms

You understand your needs best. If you have found yourself at a crossroads in your treatment and feel like your program options don’t fully understand you or aspects of your recovery, it’s time to contact the specialists at Alta Loma. We will help you craft the ideal care plan and secure the support you need, quickly, to avoid unnecessary problems. At Alta Loma, that’s our mission — to provide each individual with optimum care for the wellbeing they deserve.