Schizoaffective disorder is characterised by the presence of mood symptoms, such as depression or mania, plus the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.
Psychosis refers to symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking and speech, and bizarre and inappropriate motor behaviour (including catatonia) that indicate loss of contact with reality.
Medical professionals consider schizoaffective disorder when people have both psychosis and mood symptoms (such as depression or mania).
The mood symptoms should be present for more than half of the total duration of illness and occur with two or more of the following symptoms of schizophrenia:
- Disorganised speech.
- Grossly disorganised behaviour.
- Negative symptoms, for example:
- Showing little or no emotion;
- Decreased speech;
- Inability to feel pleasure; and
- Lack of interest in relationships with other people).
For medical professionals to differentiate schizoaffective disorder from schizophrenia and mood disorders, they may need to do a long-term assessment of an individual’s symptoms and the nature of their progression.