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Schizoaffective Treatment in Atlanta, GA

Written By: Erika Dalton, LCSW
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD
Last Updated: May 1, 2024

Home » Mental Health » Schizoaffective Disorder

What is Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizoaffective disorder is a mental health disorder defined by a combination of schizophrenia and mood disorder symptoms. 

The name “schizoaffective” refers to the two primary components of the disorder:

  • “Schizo-” indicates the psychotic symptoms that are also in line with schizophrenia. These symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech.
  • The suffix “-affective” suggests the extreme changes in mood, energy, and behavioral patterns characteristic of the disorder. These changes are similar to depressive or manic episodes.

Because schizoaffective disorder combines symptoms of other disorders, it can be difficult to diagnose. Oftentimes, you could be misdiagnosed as having either bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or depression with psychosis.

According to MedlinePlus, the overlap in symptoms of other mental disorders and resulting misdiagnoses makes it difficult to know the prevalence of schizoaffective disorder. However, “One study from Finland estimated that schizoaffective disorder affects 3 in 1,000 people.”

How Do I Know I Need Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment?

Due to the overlapping symptoms with other mental disorders, knowing if you need schizoaffective disorder treatment can be challenging. Most people with schizoaffective disorder receive treatment for either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. However, neither of these treatments alone addresses the full scope of the disorder.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder means that you have:

“…an uninterrupted [mental] illness featuring at some time a major depressive episode, manic episode, or mixed episode concurrently with characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia (e.g., delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, catatonic behavior) and, in the same period, delusions or hallucinations for at least 2 weeks in the absence of prominent mood symptoms.”

Essentially, the primary defining characteristic is that your psychotic symptoms (hallucinations and delusions) persist in the absence of your mood disorder symptoms. In other words, if you have a manic or depressive phase, but you still have psychosis after your mood stabilizes, you need schizoaffective disorder treatment.

Furthermore, a co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD) or dual diagnosis can complicate getting a proper diagnosis. This is because substance abuse can lead to exaggerated mood swings or psychosis—especially if you have an underlying mental disorder, like depression or bipolar. Therefore, your symptoms must occur in the absence of drug or alcohol abuse

Check Out Our Mental Health Facility in Atlanta, GA

Check Out Our Mental Health Facility in Atlanta, GA


Signs and Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

The signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder vary based on the mood-based symptoms you have. For instance, some people’s mood-based symptoms align more closely with bipolar disorder, whereas others look more like depression.

The signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder include the following:

  • Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling things that are not real 
  • Delusions: False and rigid beliefs about yourself or the world despite evidence to the contrary (examples include delusions of grandeur and paranoia)
  • Disorganized speech: Speech that jumps from one topic to another, is difficult to understand or follow, and is often awkward or off-topic
  • Depression: Prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, and low energy 
  • Mania: Extremely high levels of energy, euphoria, rapid speech, racing thoughts, and reckless behaviors

In addition, a case study published by BMC Psychiatry discusses a 35-year-old man with schizoaffective disorder who also had ritualistic behaviors and catatonia. Ritualistic behaviors are more commonly associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), while catatonia can be a symptom of schizophrenia.

Therefore, signs and symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can vary from one person to another. That is why our schizoaffective treatment in Atlanta offers a variety of services to ensure that we can help you create a plan that works for you.

What to Expect During Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment in Atlanta

Schizoaffective disorder treatment addresses your unique symptoms. You might get a diagnosis that indicates your mood-based symptoms. For instance, you could have “schizoaffective disorder/depression” or “schizoaffective disorder/bipolar.” 

Furthermore, bipolar symptoms vary based on the prevalence of depressive versus manic symptoms and episodes. So, you can expect a combination of therapies and approaches similar to schizophrenia and mood disorder treatment.

How is Schizoaffective Disorder Treated?

Schizoaffective disorder is treated with comprehensive planning to address all of your unique symptoms, including:

  • Medications: Psychiatric medications help with both symptoms of psychosis and mood disorders. For schizoaffective disorders, you might take a combination of antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants.
  • Psychotherapy: Mental health disorders like schizoaffective disorder can significantly impact your emotional well-being and relationships. At Buckhead Behavioral Health, we offer individual and group therapy as well as family therapy.
  • Life skills training: Schizoaffective disorder can be debilitating when untreated. With all of your symptoms, you might find it difficult to maintain a job or a healthy home environment. Life skills training, therefore, is critical to long-term recovery.
  • Holistic therapy: At our schizoaffective disorder treatment in Atlanta, we address all aspects of health and well-being, including physical and spiritual wellness. During holistic therapy, you learn healthy ways to cope with your symptoms, including breathwork, art therapy, and meditation.


Want to learn more about Buckhead Behavioral Health?

Medications Used for Schizoaffective Treatment

As mentioned above, medications can be important to your treatment. Psychiatric medications help to reduce psychotic symptoms, stabilize moods, and restore chemical imbalances in the brain. 

The following are medications commonly used for schizoaffective treatment:

  • Antipsychotics: Currently the only FDA-approved medication specifically for schizoaffective disorder is paliperidone (Invega). However, your psychiatrist might prescribe other antipsychotics approved for schizophrenia. These medications address your psychotic symptoms, like hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking.
  • Mood stabilizers: If you have a bipolar type of schizoaffective disorder, mood stabilizers help you with manic and depressive episodes. Common mood stabilizers include carbamazepine, divalproex sodium, lamotrigine, lithium, and valproic acid.
  • Antidepressants: If you have schizoaffective disorder/depression, then antidepressants can help you. They help to restore the imbalances in the brain that cause symptoms like low energy, loss of interest, hopelessness, and sleep disturbances. These medications include SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, tricyclics, and atypical antidepressants.

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