Schizoaffective disorder is a type of mental disorder marked by a combination of schizophrenia symptoms and mood disorder symptoms.
"Schizo-" refers to symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations or delusions
"-affective" concerns mood disorder symptoms like depression and mania.
It is suggested that schizoaffective disorder sits in the middle of the spectrum, between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
There are two types of schizoaffective disorders, namely bipolar type and depressive type. The bipolar type involves episodes of mania and sometimes major depression, while the latter only has major depressive episodes.
Defining features of schizoaffective disorder include a major mood episode (either depressed or manic mood) with a minimum 2-week period of psychotic signs when the major mood episode is absent. Other signs and symptoms may include:
Delusions — having false, fixed beliefs, despite evidence otherwise
Hallucinations — hearing voices or seeing things that others don't
Impaired or incoherent communication and speech
Bizarre or unusual behaviour
Impaired occupational, academic and social functioning due to difficulty concentrating
Issues with managing personal hygiene, including cleanliness and physical appearance
Similar to bipolar and schizophrenia, doctors generally prescribe medications like antidepressants, anti-psychotics and mood stabilisers to treat depression, relieve psychotic symptoms and stabilise mood. Depending on the severity, a combination of the three or only one type of drug may be prescribed. Medication (especially anti-psychotics) can impact physical health so it is important to go for regular check-ups.
Individual or group psychotherapy in the form of counselling or expressive arts (e.g. music, dance and art) will help patients connect thoughts, feelings and behaviour with symptoms, develop coping mechanisms and express past trauma experienced.
Life skills training in the aspects of social and vocational skills can help improve the quality of life and reduce isolation. The focus of this therapy is on improving communication, social interactions and participation in daily activities to help patients prepare for, find and keep jobs.
Lastly, family intervention aims to provide support for the entire household. It helps your family understand and empathise with what you're going through, communicate your needs and manage your symptoms.