There are two types of schizoaffective disorder:
- Bipolar type- A manic episode (persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood) is part of the schizophrenic presentation. Major depressive episodes may also occur.
- Depressive type- A major depressive episode (depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure) is part of the schizophrenic presentation.
The disorder may occur in a variety of temporal patterns. The following is a typical pattern: An individual may have pronounced auditory hallucinations and persecutory delusions for at least 2 months before the onset of a major depressive episode. The psychotic symptoms and the full major depressive episode are then present for at least 3 months. Then, the individual recovers completely from the major depressive episode, but the psychotic symptoms persist for at least another month before they disappear.
The symptoms and behavior of children and adolescents with schizoaffective disorder may be different from those of adults with this illness. The following symptoms and behaviors can occur in children or adolescents with schizoaffective disorder:
- Hallucinations – seeing or hearing things not seen or heard by others
- Delusions – fixed beliefs that are held regardless of evidence to the contrary
- Disorganized thinking – lack of continuity in speech, answers unrelated to questions
- Major Depressive Episode – sadness, feeling of worthlessness and emptiness, diminished interest in activities, insomnia or hypersomnia
- Bipolar Episode – inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, distractibility, increase in goal-directed activity, a patient may experience euphoria, racing thoughts, engagement in risky behavior
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Schizoaffective disorder affects approximately 0.3% of adults. Onset of schizoaffective disorder typically occurs in early adulthood, although onset can occur anywhere from adolescence to late in life.
Schizoaffective disorder in youth is extremely rare. There are no current estimates of children and adolescents with schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type may be more common in young adults, whereas schizoaffective disorder, depressive type, may be more common in older adults. The diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder is made using the same diagnostic criteria as those used for adults.