What is the life expectancy of someone with schizoaffective disorder?

Samir Kadri
Author: Samir Kadri Medical Reviewer: Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD Last updated:

Schizoaffective disorder is a chronic mental health condition that combines features of both schizophrenia and mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. It is characterized by a combination of psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and sometimes hallucinations, as well as symptoms of mood disorders, such as mania or depression. [1]

Schizoaffective disorder is generally considered to be a lifelong condition with no cure. It typically emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood, and it often requires ongoing treatment and management.

Individuals with schizoaffective disorder may experience periods of stability with milder symptoms, but they can also have episodes of more severe symptoms, including psychotic episodes and mood disturbances.

What is the life expectancy of someone with schizoaffective disorder?

There is evidence to suggest that people with schizoaffective disorder may have a reduced life expectancy when compared to the general population.

A 2011 study asserted that the average life expectancy at birth was 69.4 for men and 64.1 for women diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. [2] These figures are 8 and 17.5 years less than the life expectancy of an average man or woman, respectively. [2]

Whilst life expectancy acts as useful metric to medical professionals and policymakers in the combatting of diseases, it is primarily a measure of impact rather than effect. [2] As such, it is important to understand that various risk factors, such as lifestyle conditions and medical comorbidities, can contribute to this gap in life expectancy.

The hope is that with an increased focus on treatment, a spreading of awareness and knowledge about the disease and better healthcare options for everyone across society – people with schizoaffective disorders will be able to live longer and more fulfilling lives.

Factors that can impact reduced life expectancy of someone with schizoaffective disorder

Several factors can contribute to the reduced life expectancy among individuals with schizoaffective disorder:

  • Healthcare disparities: Access to quality healthcare services, including both physical and mental health care, can be challenging for individuals with schizoaffective disorder. Limited access to medical care, inadequate health insurance coverage, and socioeconomic factors can impact timely diagnosis, treatment, and management of physical health issues.
  • Medical comorbidities: People with schizoaffective disorder may be more likely to develop health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and respiratory problems. These comorbidities, along with unhealthy lifestyle choices, can increase the risk of medical complications and impact life expectancy.
  • Lifestyle factors: Individuals with schizoaffective disorder may have higher rates of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, and substance abuse. These factors can contribute to physical health problems and decrease life expectancy.
  • Suicide risk: Individuals with schizoaffective disorder have an elevated risk of suicide compared to the general population. [2] Suicide is a significant contributing factor to premature mortality in people with severe mental disorders.

It is important to note that individual circumstances and factors vary, and not everyone with schizoaffective disorder will experience a reduced life expectancy.

With an effective treatment plan, support, and management of both mental and physical health, individuals with schizoaffective disorder can lead fulfilling lives and improve their overall well-being, potentially mitigating the impact on life expectancy.

Early diagnosis, comprehensive treatment, regular monitoring of physical and mental health, and a holistic approach to care can help address these factors and improve the overall health outcomes and life expectancy for individuals with schizoaffective disorder.

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder

Treatment for schizoaffective disorder typically involves a combination of medication, such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, or antidepressants, to manage symptoms. [3] Always consult a doctor before embarking on any course of medication. They will provide guidance on dosage and regular check-ups to ensure medication is not having an adverse impact on your health. [3]

Psychotherapy, including individual therapy, family therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also be beneficial in improving coping skills and managing stress. [3]

Art, dance, music or acting therapies may help a patient express how they are feeling and interact with others [3]. These may be especially beneficial when someone struggles to talk about their issues.

With appropriate treatment and support, many individuals with schizoaffective disorder can lead fulfilling and productive lives. However, it is important to recognize that ongoing management and support are generally necessary to help individuals effectively manage their symptoms and maintain overall well-being.

  1. Schizoaffective Disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizoaffective-Disorder
  2. Chang, C. K., Hayes, R. D., Perera, G., Broadbent, M. T., Fernandes, A. C., Lee, W. E., Hotopf, M., & Stewart, R. (2011). Life expectancy at birth for people with serious mental illness and other major disorders from a secondary mental health care case register in London. PloS one, 6(5), e19590. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0019590
  3. What treatments are there for schizoaffective disorder?(n.d.). Mind. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/schizoaffective-disorder/treatment/
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Samir Kadri
Author Samir Kadri Writer

Samir Kadri is a medical writer with a non-profit sector background, committed to raising awareness about mental health.

Published: Jul 28th 2023, Last edited: Feb 21st 2024

Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD
Medical Reviewer Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD LSW, MSW

Dr. Jenni Jacobsen, PhD is a medical reviewer, licensed social worker, and behavioral health consultant, holding a PhD in clinical psychology.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Jul 27th 2023