The Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

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The Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are similar diseases in name and symptoms. The distinct differences can be hard to spot, making these conditions more likely to get misdiagnosed. This can lead to you not getting the treatment you need, worsening symptoms, and the development of other mental health disorders. We at Avalon Malibu want to help you get the correct diagnosis and treatment to live the life you want.

Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

Schizoaffective disorder and schizophrenia have many similarities, including the fact that the prevalence of these disorders is unknown. The symptoms you experience can be similar for either condition or other mental health disorders. Other mental health conditions and risky behaviors, such as substance use, may develop due to misdiagnoses or the disorder being left untreated.


A mental health disorder that affects how you think, feel, and act can be categorized as schizophrenia. Symptoms can include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities or daily activities altogether
  • Flat affect
  • Difficulty decision making
  • Ability to focus is hindered

Schizoaffective Disorder

A mental health disorder that is a combination of disrupted thought processes and mood instability is schizoaffective disorder. Symptoms include:

  • Inability to perform daily activities.
  • Hallucinations
  • Unusual behavior
  • Communication difficulties
  • Delusions
  • Trouble keeping up with personal care
  • Episodes of mania
  • Experiencing depression symptoms

Key Difference Between Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

In schizophrenia, the psychosis symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions, are constant, while the mood disorder symptoms will come and go. For schizoaffective disorder, this is the opposite. The psychosis symptoms are not always present while you are experiencing the mood disorder symptoms.

This is an important distinction because it tells you which disorder you have. Having the correct diagnosis impacts treatment plans and care. It means you are getting what you need to function in your life again and reach your long-term goals.

Treatment When Also Struggling With Addiction

There is a high prevalence of dual diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and addiction, according to an article published by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in December 2019. Since co-occurring disorders are highly prevalent, it has become practice when someone is experiencing psychosis symptoms that they are also tested for substance use. It also means that treatment for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder needs to be modified to not worsen the substance use disorder (SUD).

For example, first-generation antipsychotics can increase cravings and substance use in someone with co-occurring disorders of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and addiction. The dual diagnosis means that treatment plans must be tailored to treat both conditions simultaneously. Treatments for one disorder may be less effective because the other is not considered.

Avalon Malibu Help With Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder

At Avalon Malibu, we are a mental health and addiction treatment facility with a holistic approach. When you leave our programs, we want you to have mind, body, and soul harmony and the skills to maintain it. Our programs are customized to fit your needs and ensure you are getting the most from your program. Since we offer mental health and addiction treatment, we are more suited to care for those with dual diagnoses, such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and addiction.

The Grand House is where our mental health treatment occurs. It is a residential facility for men and women that offers a more comfortable and homely environment for you to get the care you need. The programs are run by trained and licensed professionals equipped to provide psychiatric assessment and supervision, medication management, psychotherapy, mindfulness, and other specialty services. Our staff are skilled in their performance of care and make us able to treat dual diagnoses.

Our dual diagnosis treatment begins with an evaluation. This evaluation includes:

  • Psychological testing
  • Medication evaluation
  • Medical and mental health record review
  • Personal interviews

These evaluations help us understand where you are when you come for us for care. The information is used to create a plan that suits your learning style, personal struggles, and complicating factors like trauma. It helps us get any specialties we may need involved and ensure you get the most from your time with us.

When it comes to dual diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and addiction, the next step will be detoxification. During this process, we work to lessen as many withdrawal symptoms as possible.

The third step is getting started with your treatment plan. This can involve different therapy methods, including:

  • Homeopathic therapies
  • Family counseling
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Experiential therapy
  • Stress reduction techniques

Our goal with your treatment plan is to use methods that work for both disorders and leave you feeling prepared to live your life without using substances. The program is customized to you because we understand not everyone coming to us for help has the same needs to be met. We also understand that though your conditions may be similar, everyone has unique experiences and bodies.

Schizophrenia and schizoaffective Disorder are individual disorders that often get confused with one another because of their similar names. Ensuring you are getting treatment for the correct diagnosis can mean the difference between you failing and thriving. Having the wrong diagnosis can make your symptoms even worse, especially if you are struggling with co-occurring disorders, such as addiction and schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. If you are having trouble finding the right program to treat both of your conditions, reach out to Avalon Malibu today at (844) 857-5992. We understand your unique circumstances and want to ensure that your needs are being met. Our goal is to give you the tools necessary to thrive in your life.

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