Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder are two severe mental health conditions that feature some overlapping symptoms.

However, there are some crucial differences between the two conditions – affecting which diagnosis, and subsequent treatment, an individual will receive.

In this article, we take a look at the two conditions, and their differences.

Both Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder are debilitating conditions


Both conditions are severe in terms of the intensity of symptoms, and both have the potential to cause significant functional impairment.

Here is a definition of both disorders, with the difference between the two subtle, albeit clear:

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a severe and long-term mental health condition characterised by a range of symptoms, normally revolving around a difficulty in understanding reality, due to changes in the way someone thinks, feels and acts. The condition usually involves a breakdown in the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviour – leading to psychotic symptoms. While the exact symptoms range from case to case, generally delusions, hallucinations, disorganised speech, catatonia, poor concentration and a lack of interest may be displayed. With the right treatment, support and lifestyle, it is possible for symptoms to be controlled more.

Schizoaffective Disorder: Schizoaffective Disorder is severe mental health condition which involves both symptoms of Schizophrenia, along with symptoms associated with a mood disorder, like Depression or the Mania stage of Bipolar Disorder. Symptoms can therefore include hallucinations, delusions, low mood and mania among others. Someone with Schizoaffective Disorder will often have lost touch with reality. Treatment normally involves some form of talking therapy and medication.

Key Differences

So, simply put, Schizoaffective Disorder is a condition that features the classic symptoms of Schizophrenia – like hallucinations, delusions, muddled thoughts et cetera – combined with a mood disorder like depression or the manic stage within Bipolar Disorder.

The symptoms of Schizophrenia can be termed as either ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Positive symptoms include hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms include muddled thoughts, disorganised behaviour, catatonia and blunted affect.

So someone with Schizoaffective Disorder not only exhibits some of the above symptoms, but they also have a mood disorder. A depressive mood disorder is characterised by periods of low mood, lack of motivation, lack of enjoyment in activities, insomnia, lack of energy and suicidal ideation among other symptoms.

A manic episode meanwhile involves a period of elevated mood – normally accompanied by increased activity. Usually, while in a manic state, an individual will have racing thoughts, need less sleep, engage in risky behaviour and exude confidence. In any case, symptoms are difficult to control.

Schizoaffective Disorder is a rarer disease than Schizophrenia. It is possible to be diagnosed with Schizophrenia first, before later being diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder.


Both Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder are difficult conditions to live with, and therefore accessing treatment is of crucial importance.

Treatment can help bring both conditions under more control, and in some cases – result in a recovery being made.

At the very least, symptoms should be controlled much more – leading to an improvement in quality of life.

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