What Is the Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder?

What Is the Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder?

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are difficult mental health disorders to cope with and manage. The symptoms that make these conditions so hard to manage are the disruptions to cognitive function. These are severe mental health disorders associated, but one is lesser known. This condition is called schizoaffective disorder.

Schizoaffective disorder affects mood, and the person can show signs of having schizophrenia. This disorder often gets overlooked because it is less common. However, understanding the difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder can make all the difference. When you receive treatment, it is critical to receive it through the correct diagnosis.

Both schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder have similar symptoms, and managing them with a doctor’s help is essential. Outlining the specific differences between the two can help you plan treatment care that is right for you.

What Is Schizophrenia? 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that impacts how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People who experience this mental health condition can lose their grip on reality, thus affecting how they behave in society and their daily lives.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia

The symptoms of schizophrenia are specific and can include:

  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Negative symptoms
  • Cognitive symptoms

There is a difference between all three that must be understood, so a person can understand their own symptoms.

#1. Psychotic Symptoms

When someone is going through a psychotic episode, they may be experiencing delusions and hallucinations. These symptoms change the way a person experiences the world and how they react to their surroundings. Their view of the world may become distorted, and they may not relate to others in an appropriate manner.

Additionally, there are two sub-categories of psychotic symptoms: hallucinations and delusions. 


In an article published by the National Library of Medicine, those experiencing hallucinations experience them in numerous sensory ways. This includes their visual sensory and their auditory sensory. This means that the person can hear voices that aren’t there or see things that aren’t really happening. 


Delusions mean that a person may believe strongly in irrational fears. This could include believing someone is trying to hurt them or hearing special messages only intended for them. They may believe something so strongly that this turns into an irrational fear.

#2. Negative Symptoms

When a person experiences schizophrenia they usually have a loss of interest and pleasure in doing daily activities. They lack motivation and withdraw from social life because of their difficulty functioning. Often, a person experiencing this mental health disorder can have low energy and sometimes go into catatonia, meaning they stop moving for a period of time. 

#3. Cognitive Symptoms

The cognitive symptoms that come with this disorder include trouble with concentration, attention, and memory. Their day-to-day functioning is impaired because they lack the significant ability to make decisions. Also, they may have trouble processing information and taking directions easily.

Schizophrenia affects many people. However, it is treatable with the right psychiatrist and medication. Talk therapy or psychotherapy working in tandem with the proper doctors can help this condition become less severe.

Symptoms of Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder is comparable to schizophrenia and the symptoms that come with that condition. However, there is a significant difference between the two; schizoaffective disorder is a mood disorder. 

Mood Swings

When a person experiences schizoaffective disorder, they may also experience mood swings. This can affect how a person relates to everyday life and society. 


Hallucinations and delusions are a part of schizoaffective disorder. However, it is also true that depression and other mood disorders come into play. This includes mania, which is a symptom of bipolar disorder


Mania gives a person the ability to feel extreme highs and extreme lows. Feelings of euphoria and energy and feelings of depression and suicidal ideation are symptoms of mania.


Like treating schizophrenia, it is vital to see a doctor or medical professional that can diagnose their symptoms properly. Talk therapy, group therapy, and other programs can help a person create a treatment plan that works for them.

Outpatient programs and sufficient care are available. By talking to a doctor about what works best for them, a person could form the kind of treatment plan that gives them the best care. While there are similarities to both schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, knowing the difference and getting accurately diagnosed is crucial.

Consider both outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs for your plan of care. These programs offer structured mental health treatment that can help you manage your worst symptoms. When left untreated, these disorders can lead to physical problems along with more mental health disorders.

Classified as brain disorders, both schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are treatable. There are options available, and Alter Wellness Care can help you find the right treatment plan for any adult experiencing these mental health disorders.

If you or someone you love shows signs of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, we encourage you to seek help. Here at Alter Wellness Care, we provide an outpatient mental health program that can help you cope and manage your overall symptoms. We are devoted to providing the best treatment for adults, and we are dedicated to serving them. Our goal is to help those find long-term success and happiness. There is hope for those experiencing schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Alter Wellness is here for you. Give our office a call at (866) 311-3510 to learn more about our therapy programs and how we can provide you with the proper treatment. 

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