Schizoaffective disorder includes psychotic symptoms, such as a loss of touch with reality, along with episodes of mania or depression. Psychotic symptoms can appear separately or together and often come in cycles but may differ depending on which type of schizoaffective disorder a person has. Some of the psychotic symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include the following:
- Delusions (false beliefs, paranoia, misinterpretations of reality, etc.)
- Hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing things that aren’t there, etc.)
- Disorganized thinking
- Speech and communication problems
- Depressed mood
- Manic episodes (euphoria, racing thoughts, risky behavior)
- Increased risk of substance abuse and suicidal thoughts
What triggers schizoaffective disorder?
Schizoaffective symptoms usually develop in the late teens or early adulthood where factors such as stressful events, mind altering drugs or family members who have related mental illness are present. At first, schizoaffective disorder is often incorrectly diagnosed as either bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, and only until severe symptoms occur does Schizoaffective Disorder be taken into consideration
It can also be harder to detect in those with an autism spectrum disorder since some of the symptoms are similar (e.g., communication problems, mood swings, fixating) and may overlap. Like other mental illnesses, schizoaffective disorder won’t go away on its own, so a proper diagnosis is key to minimizing symptoms and developing an effective treatment plan. For most people, this usually consists of combining medications, psychotherapy and improved self-management strategies for the best possible outcome.