What happens to people with schizoaffective disorder?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Schizoaffective disorder varies, but generally people with the condition have hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and paranoid thoughts along with depression or manic periods. They tend to isolate themselves from others. Treatment can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. If untreated, people with schizoaffective disorder may have trouble keeping a job or staying in school. They might require hospitalization or group home care. They may become dependent on their family for the care they need. 
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Schizoaffective disorder is a hybrid mental illness of schizophrenia and a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder. As a result, it is common to see people experiencing symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder, like hallucinations, movement impairment, unusual behavior and speech, mania, and feelings of hopelessness and despair. In some people, these symptoms come and go in episodes, but in others they are always there. As a result, it can be difficult to perform daily activities, even simple ones like brushing your teeth, holding down a job, and maintaining relationships with family and friends.

Luckily, schizoaffective disorder is treatable with medication and therapy or counseling. The medications will mitigate or completely eliminate your symptoms and the therapy sessions give you an opportunity for you to voice all your feelings and feel more connected, as well as discuss your concerns, worries, and struggles in life. It can also help you identify relapse warning signs and learn coping techniques.

When people stick to their treatment plan like a piece of gum under their shoe, their symptoms are controlled well enough that they can function like a pro.

Schizoaffective disorder is a lifelong illness for most people. The exact course of the illness varies from person to person, but most people have a flare-up of symptoms periodically in times of stress. These periods of increased symptoms are called relapses. They may be severe enough to limit functioning and may make hospitalization necessary. After a relapse, there is usually a gradual return to the prior level of functioning. Between relapses, most people have mild, if any, symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.