Schizoaffective disorder: A review

BACKGROUND: Schizoaffective disorder (SAD) is a chronic, potentially disabling psychotic disorder common in clinical settings. SAD often has been used as a diagnosis for individuals having an admixture of mood and psychotic symptoms whose diagnosis is uncertain. Its hallmark is the presence of symptoms of a major mood episode (either a depressive or manic episode) concurrent with symptoms characteristic of schizophrenia, such as delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech.

METHODS: A literature search in PubMed and Google Scholar was conducted to identify articles on SAD. We also reviewed major textbooks and DSM-5 to identify pertinent information.

RESULTS: This review begins with the history and classification of SAD. Debate continues to swirl around the concept, as some experts view SAD as an independent disorder, while others see SAD as either a form of schizophrenia or a mood disorder. The disorder is more common in women and its course follows the middle ground between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. SAD appears to have high heritability. Most patients appear to benefit from antipsychotics plus antidepressants and/or mood stabilizers, depending on whether the patient has the depressive or bipolar subtype. Electroconvulsive therapy can also be effective.

CONCLUSIONS: SAD is a chronic psychotic disorder that continues to be controversial. There has been inadequate research regarding its epidemiology, course, etiologic factors, and treatment.

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