Causes & Effects of Schizoaffective Disorder

At San Jose Behavioral Health, we believe education is an important first step in the effort to manage schizoaffective disorder. Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of schizoaffective disorder can help you get the right type and level of care for yourself or a loved one.

Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder

Learn About Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is a condition that impacts a person’s mental health with symptoms that can include delusions, hallucinations, and psychosis. People with schizoaffective disorder may also experience hypomanic, manic, or depressive emotions. In a sense, this disorder is similar to a combination of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. If left untreated, schizoaffective disorder can have a devastating effect on a person’s life. A person who has this condition may have a hard time differentiating between reality and non-reality, which can have a negative impact on their personal relationships and professional life.

Those who are most severely affected by this condition may feel overwhelmed by waves of emotions, may experience difficulties in relationships with family and friends, and may struggle to socialize well or achieve goals. This is mainly because moods can be extreme and more intense for a person with schizoaffective disorder. For example, instead of feeling mildly upset or disappointed, an individual with this condition will have escalated emotions such as depression or severe sadness. Similar extremes can occur regarding excitement or happiness.

It is imperative to seek treatment for schizoaffective disorder as symptoms can become increasingly severe over time if one does not get proper care.


Schizoaffective Disorder Statistics

According to the American Psychological Association, schizoaffective disorder is less common than schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. This condition only affects 0.3% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorder. Based on studies, women have more risks of developing this disorder compared to men. Furthermore, women can suffer from depression more than men, and men are more likely to develop bipolar conditions.

Causes & Risks

Causes and Risk Factors of Schizoaffective Disorder

Heredity and genetics is one risk factor for individuals to be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Environmental influences are also a possible cause of this condition, but only rarely as compared to genetics. Research finds that family history has a higher influence on individual development of this mental health disorder.

Genetic: If a family has a history of schizophrenia spectrum disorder, risks of schizoaffective disorder becomes higher. Immediate family members such as the father or the mother with schizophrenia spectrum disorder present a high risk for an individual to also develop this condition.

Risk Factors:

  • Relatives and immediate family diagnosed with schizophrenia spectrum disorder
  • Relatives and immediate family diagnosed with bipolar condition

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

Signs and symptoms that a person has schizoaffective disorder can be different for each individual. While mood swings are common signs, the intensity and frequency of these mood disturbances could vary greatly. For instance, an individual with schizoaffective disorder may have manic episodes, while another will only experience depression. Other signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder are:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Easily confused, disorganized actions and inability to organize thoughts
  • Slow movement
  • Lack of movement or being active, otherwise known as catatonia
  • Fast movements or fast-talking, especially during a manic episode
  • Impulsive actions or movements, or being risky with actions
  • Incomprehensible way of talking

Physical symptoms:

  • Change in weight
  • Inactivity and lack of interest
  • Lack of affection or expression
  • Being excessively energetic, especially during a manic episode
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Not being able to sleep and not sleeping especially during a manic episode

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Unrealistic and confusing thoughts
  • Not being able to determine reality from non-reality
  • Hearing, feeling, and/or seeing things that are not real
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Fast-changing thoughts during a manic episode

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • Quick changing of emotions to anger and irritation
  • Thinking that one has superhuman strengths or has special abilities, especially during a manic episode

Lasting Effects

Effects of Schizoaffective Disorder

If an individual showing signs of schizoaffective disorder is not given help right away, it can present detrimental costs to the individual and his or her loved ones. It can escalate to other mental health disorders, affect personal relationships and professional life, and can lead to physical harm for the individual. If left untreated, it can lead to the following consequences:

  • Negative effects on job and career performance
  • Loss of career and income
  • Drug and alcohol use, abuse, and addiction
  • Suicidal tendencies and attempts
  • Family, friends, and personal relationship conflicts
  • Inability to invest emotions and develop relationships
  • Risks of developing other severe mental disorders
  • Death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders

An individual with schizoaffective disorder can also suffer from other mental conditions at the same time. Some of these disorders are:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders

From admission to discharge, Seven Hills was very supportive of my daughter when she was getting treatment for schizoaffective disorder. I have San Jose to thank for bringing our son back to us!

– Rodney W.