Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

Main Difference – Schizophrenia vs Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder are two psychiatric conditions which share several similar features between each other, making it difficult to differentiate one from the other. However, it is important to identify the characteristics of these two conditions separately, in order to make necessary interventions and treatments effectively. The main difference between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder is that Schizoaffective Disorder is a combination of Schizophrenia and mood disorder.Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder -infographic

What is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe brain disorder which affects an individual’s way of thinking, emotions, and behavioral patterns. People affected by this condition appear as if they have lost touch with the reality. Being quite rare among the general population, Schizophrenia is known to result in various disabilities in the affected individual.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia usually appear around the age of 16-30 and patients will often indicate three types of signs and symptoms namely, positive, negative and cognitive.

Positive symptoms refer to those that are not seen in healthy individuals. Positive symptoms of Schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, agitated bodily movements and dysfunctional thinking patterns. People with this kind of symptoms will appear as if they are living in some other imaginary world.

Negative symptoms of Schizophrenia, which involve disturbed emotions and behavior, include flat effect (reduced facial expressions and tone of the voice), low mood and energy, difficulty in initiating activities and their maintenance and disturbed speech. However, patients can either experience all these symptoms or just one or two.

Cognitive symptoms of Schizophrenia are very subtle features which cause disruptions in memory and thoughts. Mostly identified symptoms include poor executive functions (poor ability to analyze thoughts and rational thinking), difficulty in maintaining attention for a long time and issues in terms of working memory (poor ability to use information).

Being a lifelong condition, Schizophrenia cannot be cured completely, but the symptoms can be treated accordingly. As far as the treatment methods for Schizophrenia are concerned, many patients will respond to antipsychotics, psychosocial therapeutic sessions and coordinated specialty care (CSC), a newly introduced intervention which integrates drug therapy, psychosocial therapy, supportive measures, educating the family and case management. CSC mainly targets the symptomatic improvement and enhanced quality of life.Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

What is Schizoaffective Disorder

This a chronic psychiatric condition, which can be defined as a combination of Schizophrenia along with a mood disorder such as depression or mania. People affected by Schizoaffective disorder will show symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and agitated behaviors together with low energy, guilt or self-blame, low mood (emptiness, worthlessness) or disorganized thoughts (switching from one topic to the other during conversations) and emotions ( sudden unrelated mood swings). If the disease has occurred with a mood disorder like bipolar disorder, patients will indicate phases of both low mood and excitement suggesting manic and depressive episodes respectively.

Even though the exact etiology of the schizoaffective disorder is unknown, genetics, distorted brain chemicals, various drugs and stressful conditions have been identified to be playing key roles in its pathology.

The major modality of treatment for Schizoaffective disorder includes medications like mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants, and depending on the symptoms and Psychotherapy, involve cognitive behavioral therapy and family-oriented therapy.

Additionally, patients affected by Schizoaffective disorder can also have features of possible underlying conditions like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Attention Deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders. Therefore it is important to make the exact diagnosis, before deciding on the treatment.

Main Difference -  Schizophrenia vs Schizoaffective Disorder

Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder


Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions, and symptoms of a mood disorder, such as mania and depression. 


Schizophrenia is a thought disorder which may or may not affect  individual’s moods.

Schizoaffective Disorder is characterized by concurrent mood swings. It also refers to a combination of Schizophrenia and a mood disorder which can either be bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety.


Schizophrenia can be treated with antipsychotics, psychosocial therapeutic sessions and coordinated specialty care (CSC).

Schizoaffective Disorder can be treated with mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants as well as psychotherapy depending on the symptoms. 

Image Courtesy:

“Schizophrenia (Brain)”By BruceBlaus – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

“Van Gogh – Trauernder alter Mann” By Vincent van Gogh – scan by user:Mefusbren69 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music