What Is Schizoaffective Disorder and How Does It Differ from Schizophrenia?

More than 21 million people around the world suffer from schizophrenia, a severe mental health disorder. About one in every 200 people suffer from schizoaffective disorder. In either case, you may notice someone you know or love talking to people who aren’t there, hearing and seeing things you don’t hear and see, thinking they have superpowers, and generally living out of touch with reality. There’s a good chance they have either schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

Dr. Latif Ziyar specializes in accurately diagnosing schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Both are psychotic disorders with similar symptoms, and some medical professionals misdiagnose them. So it’s important to see Dr. Ziyar as soon as possible to make sure the diagnosis and treatment are precise. 

How schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are the same

Because these two psychotic disorders share so much in common, they are difficult to distinguish from each other. They even begin to show up at the same time, around age 20. In both cases, you can expect the ill person to exhibit the following symptoms.


This is when you see things that aren’t there and hear imaginary voices. In short, your sensory perceptions trick you into thinking you live in a false reality.


If you believe things that aren’t true, you’re having delusions. Some examples are: believing you have superpowers, believing people around you have secret identities, or thinking you or others can travel through time.

Disorganized thoughts

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder cause your thoughts to scatter and disconnect. You might babble about unrelated topics or jump from topic to topic. This makes it difficult to perform and keep a job, maintain relationships, take care of daily hygiene and household chores, and live a normal life.


Both disorders make it difficult for people to show their emotions appropriately. Their body language and facial expressions communicate apathy, indifference, and disinterest. Their verbal language is often flat or monotone.

How schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are different

Although both disorders cause suffers to hallucinate, have delusions, and experience mood disorders, the key differences focus on the duration and nature of the symptoms. 

In those with schizophrenia, psychotic disorders (hallucinations and delusions) are chronic. The sufferer lives in a near-constant state of their condition. The mood disorders (depression and mania), by contrast, are only episodic, meaning they come and go. And these mood disorders generally occur only when the person is experiencing hallucinations or delusions, 

In those with schizoaffective disorder, those circumstances are flipped. Their psychotic episodes are less frequent, and they have some periods when they are symptom-free. In fact, those “off” periods are a key part of the schizoaffective disorder diagnosis. You must have intervals of at least two weeks without psychotic episodes to differentiate schizoaffective disorder from schizophrenia. In addition, your depression and mania symptoms are more prominent than in those with schizophrenia — in fact, they are the main symptom you’re exhibiting — and you can experience them even when you aren’t having a psychotic episode. 

More about schizoaffective disorder

The schizoaffective disorder comes in two types:

Treating schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia

Both of these mental health illnesses can be treated successfully, but proper diagnosis is difficult and critical. Only a highly qualified psychiatrist like Dr. Ziyar can correctly diagnose these severe mental illnesses and ensure the right course of action. 

His treatment plans are remarkably effective, because he approaches the disorders from a comprehensive, holistic perspective. Dr. Ziyar takes into account the entire context of his patient’s life and environment before moving forward with a treatment plan. He looks at all of the psychological, biological, and social aspects of the case and makes recommendations based on all the facts and nuanced circumstances.

A combination of medications and psychotherapy generally helps his patients overcome the majority of their symptoms, but he may also recommend programs that help you develop job and social skills.

Although these disorders affect millions of people, more than 50% are not getting proper treatment. If someone you love is one of them, call us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ziyar immediately, or schedule an appointment online. Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are treatable, and getting the proper care can help them reclaim a more normal life.

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