Schizoaffective Disorder Signs, Symptoms and Effects


Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of schizoaffective disorder is an important step toward getting help for yourself or a loved one. Haverhill Pavilion Behavioral Health Hospital in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is a source of accurate information, reliable guidance, and comprehensive solutions for adults and older adults who have been struggling with schizoaffective disorder.

Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder

Learn about schizoaffective disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a complex illness that can have a profound negative impact on a person’s life.

To meet the criteria for a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, an individual must have symptoms of schizophrenia while also experiencing either major depressive episodes or manic episodes.

Some of the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder, such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech, can make it extremely difficult for people to understand their environment or interact with others.

Other symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may include extremely high or low energy, excessive or diminished self-esteem, dramatic changes in mood, varying levels of motivation, and substandard self-care. These symptoms can undermine a person’s ability to maintain healthy relationships, make progress in school or at work, fulfill personal responsibilities, and otherwise fully engage in a productive and satisfying independent lifestyle.

The symptoms of schizoaffective disorder typically first appear by the time a person has reached early adulthood. However, older adults can also develop the signs and symptoms of this disorder.

As distressing as these symptoms can be, people who struggle with schizoaffective disorder can achieve improved quality of life when they receive effective professional care. With the right type and level of help, adults and older adults whose lives have been impacted by schizoaffective disorder can learn to manage their symptoms and regain control of their thoughts and actions.

Signs & Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder         

The signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can vary from person to person depending upon a variety of individual factors. The person’s history, the type of episode they are experiencing, and the presence of co-occurring disorders can all influence the nature and severity of symptoms.

In general, the following are among the more common signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder:

Symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • Disorganized thought processes
  • Incoherent speech patterns or otherwise impaired ability to express thoughts and ideas
  • Diminished facial expressiveness
  • Impaired memory
  • Failing to perform basic hygiene or other self-care tasks
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Delusions (beliefs that clearly have no basis in reality)
  • Avolition (inability to begin and complete self-directed activities)

Symptoms of major depressive episodes:

  • Profound sadness
  • Overwhelming sense that life is hopeless and you are worthless
  • Problems with concentration, focus, and judgment
  • Losing interest in hobbies, events, or topics that were previously of great importance to you
  • Pulling away from friends and family members
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Increased or diminished appetite, with resultant weight gain or loss
  • Diminished energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Recurring involuntary thoughts of death and dying
  • Suicidal thoughts

Symptoms of manic episodes:

  • Inflated sense of self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Euphoria
  • Elevated energy levels
  • Racing thoughts
  • Speaking very rapidly
  • Participating in multiple activities
  • No apparent need for sleep
  • Pattern of reckless, risky, or dangerous behaviors
  • Abnormally high sense of motivation

Short-Term Effects

Possible short-term effects of schizoaffective disorder

The short-term effects of schizoaffective disorder can be sources of considerable distress. The onset, nature, and severity of these effects can vary significantly depending upon several personal factors. The following are among the more common short-term effects of schizoaffective disorder:

  • Strained relationships with family members, friends, peers, or colleagues
  • Unsatisfactory performance in school
  • Difficulties finding and keeping a job
  • Financial challenges
  • Medical problems related to poor self-care
  • Physical injuries related to reckless behaviors
  • Onset of co-occurring disorders
  • Abusing alcohol or other drugs
  • Social withdrawal
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of suicide

Please note that describing these possible outcomes as the short-term effects of schizoaffective disorder does not indicate that they are temporary, superficial, or otherwise not serious. The effects that are listed in this section are the ones that most commonly occur earlier in a person’s struggles with schizoaffective disorder.

It is not an overstatement to state that the short-term effects of schizoaffective disorder can be devastating. Anyone who demonstrates the signs and symptoms of this disorder, or who struggles with the short-term effects of schizoaffective disorder, needs professional help.

Long-Term Effects

Potential long-term effects of schizoaffective disorder

Continuing to struggle with schizoaffective disorder, and failing to get effective professional help, will increase a person’s risk for a wide range of long-term effects.

The following are some of the more common potential long-term effects of schizoaffective disorder:

  • Ruined relationships with friends or family members
  • Social isolation
  • Academic failure or expulsion
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Significant financial problems
  • Worsening physical and psychological health
  • Arrest and incarceration due to reckless behaviors
  • Homelessness
  • Pervasive sense of hopelessness
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal actions

As with the short-term effects that were discussed in the previous section, the long-term effects of schizoaffective disorder can be devastating and, in some cases, even deadly. If you or someone in your life has experienced any long-term effects of schizoaffective disorder, get help immediately. With the right professional care, you can overcome the short- and long-term effects of schizoaffective disorder and achieve improved wellness.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have schizoaffective disorder

Many people who develop schizoaffective disorder also struggle with other mental or behavioral health challenges. Clinical professionals refer to the simultaneous presence of two conditions as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

The following are the two most common co-occurring disorders among people who struggle with schizoaffective disorder:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders (this is the clinical term for addiction)

No definitive cause-effect relationship between schizoaffective disorder and these co-occurring disorders has been identified. The signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder may develop either before or after a person begins to struggle with one of these co-occurring disorders. Also, some people who develop schizoaffective disorder never experience any co-occurring disorders.

The possible presence of co-occurring disorders underscores the importance of completing a thorough evaluation and receiving an accurate diagnosis from a qualified professional. Understanding the scope of your needs, which includes identifying any co-occurring disorders, is a vital part of getting appropriate help for schizoaffective disorder.


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