Schizoaffective disorder is a condition where symptoms of both psychotic and mood disorders are present together during one episode. Episodes can vary in length and some people have frequent episodes, but this does not necessarily happen for everybody. Symptoms usually start when you are a young adult.
Some people have suggested that schizoaffective disorder sits in the middle of a continuum, with schizophrenia at one end and bipolar disorder at the other. However, schizoaffective disorder is perceived as a separate analysis of both schizophrenia and bipolar, despite sharing many similar symptoms.
Some symptoms of this disorder include psychotic symptoms, such as:
Hallucinations - where you may experience things that others around you don't. For example hearing voices, seeing visual hallucinations, and other unexplained sensations.
Delusions - where you might hold strong beliefs that other people don't share. For instance, a fear that you are being followed, your thoughts are being read, you are very powerful and able to influence things outside of your control, or that you have special insight or divine experiences.
In general, you may feel:
your thoughts becoming very disorientated
very confused or frightened
excited and elated
The cause of schizoaffective disorder is not yet known, and research into it is happening all the time. Rather than a single cause, it is generally agreed that schizoaffective disorder is likely to be caused by a combination of factors, such as:
stressful life events
Everyone is different and people's experience of schizoaffective disorder will vary from person to person, as will the treatments that work best for them.