What is the treatment for schizoaffective disorder?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
A combination of counseling and medication provides the best treatment for schizoaffective disorder. The treatment may be different depending on whether your mood symptoms are bipolar (wide mood swings) or only depressive. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one drug, paliperidone, specifically for schizoaffective disorder. This antipsychotic reduces such symptoms as delusions (unrealistic ideas), paranoia (unreasonable fears), and hallucinations (perceiving things that do not exist). Doctors may use medicines approved for other similar mental illness to treat schizoaffective disorder. These include other antipsychotics, mood-stabilizers (which even out the highs and lows), and antidepressants (which control feelings of extreme sadness). All medications can cause side effects, including medicines for schizoaffective disorder; be sure to discuss any side effects you experience with your doctor. Trained mental health workers, such as psychotherapists, can provide reassurance and practical advice about how to live with schizoaffective disorder. Group therapy offers an opportunity for emotional support and exchanging tips on how to cope.
TTeatment usually consists of therapy, medicine and skills training.
  • The medicines used to treat schizoaffective disorder include antipsychotic medicines, antidepressants, and/or mood stabilizers. Often several medicines are combined to get the best results.
  • Therapy is most helpful when the patient and therapist work together to learn about the illness, to establish and work on the patient's goals, and to manage everyday problems.
  • Skills training may focus on social skills, grooming and hygiene, managing money, grocery shopping, looking for a job, cooking, and so on.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder is similar to other mental illness treatment. This includes medicine and different forms of counseling.

Medications used for schizoaffective disorder depend on which mood disorder is associated with the schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is typically treated with antipsychotic medications since they relieve the psychotic symptoms. Mood stabilizers and antidepressants are also common forms of treatment since they relieve the mood-related symptoms.

Therapy can also help people with schizoaffective disorder. It is more likely to be helpful when combined with medication treatment. Therapy sessions give you an opportunity for you to voice 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.
Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Treatment for schizoaffective disorder requires a lifelong commitment. Your doctor may prescribe medications to relieve psychosis, treat depression, or stabilize your mood. He or she may also recommend psychotherapy to help you talk about your symptoms and problems and manage your thoughts. Support groups can also help you develop social skills and feel less isolated and alone. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options and follow them as directed.

Continue Learning about Mental Health

5 Things Your Therapist Wants You to Stop Doing ASAP
5 Things Your Therapist Wants You to Stop Doing ASAP
“There’s a big misconception that you have to be in severe anguish or your life has to be disarray in order to go to therapy,” says Peter Thomas, PhD,...
Read More
How do I deal with change?
Lisa OzLisa Oz
Once you start to make a change in one area, that change can be effortlessly applied to everything e...
More Answers
Hate Confrontation? Try These 5 Therapist-Approved Tactics
Hate Confrontation? Try These 5 Therapist-Approved TacticsHate Confrontation? Try These 5 Therapist-Approved TacticsHate Confrontation? Try These 5 Therapist-Approved TacticsHate Confrontation? Try These 5 Therapist-Approved Tactics
Keep your relationships intact after tough discussions.
Start Slideshow
Understanding Addiction and Addictive Behavior
Understanding Addiction and Addictive Behavior

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.