Treatments for schizoaffective disorder

You should be offered a combination of talking therapies and medication for schizoaffective disorder.

Talking therapy

You should be offered talking treatment and family intervention as part of your recovery.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This aims to help you understand links between your thoughts, feeling and actions. CBT will look at your symptoms and how they affect your life, and also at your perceptions and beliefs. CBT improves awareness of your episodes and gives you ways of coping with stress and other symptoms.

Family intervention

Family intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships. This should be offered to people who you live with or who you are in close contact with. The support that you and your family are given will depend on what problems there are and what preferences you all have. This could be group family sessions or individual sessions.


The medication you’re offered will depend on the type of schizoaffective disorder you’re diagnosed with, and may be a mix of antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilisers:

  • Manic type schizoaffective disorder is likely to be treated with a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic drug.
  • Depressive type is likely to be treated with a mood stabiliser and antidepressant.
  • For an acute episode of schizoaffective disorder, where you become very unwell quickly) you may be given antipsychotic medication

Your doctor may also prescribe you sleeping tablets or benzodiazepines. This type of medication is addictive so you will normally only have them for a short time.

If you forget to take your medication every day, you can ask your doctor about a depot injection instead. You’ll be given the injection every 2 or 4 weeks. You won’t have to take tablets if you have a depot injection.

Your doctor may offer you antidepressants, which can trigger manic episodes for some people. Your doctor should monitor your medication.

If your GP wants to give you an antidepressant alongside another medication such as lithium or antipsychotic medication, they should consult a psychiatrist. Your doctor should carry out regular checks to monitor lithium and antipsychotic medication.

Art therapies

Art therapy can help you learn new ways of relating to other people, show how you are feeling, accept your feelings, and understand your feelings. If your psychosis reoccurs, art therapy should be considered.

Arts therapy may be more useful if you have depressive symptoms such as withdrawing from family and friends, as it usually takes place with a group to help combine communication with creativity.

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