Schizoaffective disorder

What is schizoaffective disorder? 

Schizoaffective disorder is on the schizophrenia spectrum of illnesses. Diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder requires schizophrenia-like symptoms of psychosis, in addition to affective/mood symptoms such as depression. There is some debate as to whether schizoaffective disorder represents a unique diagnosis or an intermediary between schizophrenia and mood disorders. There are also considerable differences between different diagnostic criteria regarding the definition of schizoaffective disorder; particularly the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) criteria. Specifically, the ICD and also the Research Diagnostic Criteria (RDC) require simultaneous and equally prominent presence of psychotic and affective symptoms; conversely, the DSM requires an additional period (>2 weeks) where the psychotic symptoms alone are present.

What is the evidence relating to schizoaffective disorder diagnosis?

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests schizoaffective disorder occupies an intermediary position between schizophrenia and mood disorders, but is not clearly distinct from either disorder.

Moderate quality evidence found people diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder using RDC/ICD criteria may have had fewer hospitalisations, are more likely to be male, and are more likely to be older or married than people diagnosed using DSM IIIR/IV criteria. Compared to people with schizophrenia, people with schizoaffective disorder may be more likely to be male, Caucasian, married, have a longer duration of illness, have lower levels of functioning, more depression, and more negative symptoms. Compared to people with bipolar disorder, people with schizoaffective disorder may be younger, have an earlier age at onset, fewer years of education, not Caucasian or African American, never married, have a longer duration of illness, more positive and negative symptoms, more depression, and higher IQ.

Around 36% of people initially diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder have their diagnosis changed at the second assessment. Conversely, around 55% of people diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder at the second assessment were originally diagnosed with other disorders. Schizophrenia or affective disorders were the most common original or subsequent diagnosis.

February 2022

Image: ©shidlovski –

Last updated at: 4:39 pm, 20th February 2022
To view documentation related to this topic download the files below
Fact Sheet Technical Commentary

NeuRA Libraries

Title Colour Legend:
Green - Topic summary is available.
Orange - Topic summary is being compiled.
Red - Topic summary has no current systematic review available.