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What Causes Schizoaffective Disorder?

June 17, 2013

Understanding disability is impossible. There are no good reasons why health troubles plague some people. Nevertheless, upon diagnosis, it is common to ask the question, “why?”

– Why does disability occur?
– How does mental illness come about?
– What causes schizoaffective disorder?

These may be questions you have after receiving a diagnosis or observing a loved one’s struggle with symptoms of this mental health disorder.


Like many neurological disabilities, there is still a lot of information that is unknown about schizoaffective disorder. In today’s blog post, we are going to reveal three reasons why medical professionals and researchers think some people develop this psychosis, mood disorder combination.

The exact causes of schizoaffective disorder remain a mystery to medical professionals.

Part of the reason it is difficult to understand the origins of schizoaffective disorder is because this condition is often misdiagnosed and confused with similar mental health issues.

Like the disorder itself, there may be more than one reason why an individual suffers from these types of episodes.

Here are three theories about what causes this disorder:

Genetic Influence

Schizoaffective is thought to be caused by some genetic factors. Since the symptoms of schizoaffective disorder mimic those of schizophrenia, some professionals believe that it may stem from roots of the family tree.

When seeking this type of diagnosis, it is important to understand the mental health history of your family. As you learn more about symptoms of mind and mood disorders, think about how they might be or have been displayed in behavioural patterns of those with whom you are related.

Chemical Imbalance

Just as the name suggests, schizoaffective disorder closely resembles elements of schizophrenia. This is why medical professionals feel confident in claiming that “changes in genes and chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) may play a role.” The additive of a mood disorder points to possibilities of serotonin and/or dopamine imbalances residing in the brain as well.

Environmental Factors

In addition, a variety of environmental stressors can trigger schizoaffective disorder and related attacks. Some include viral infections, high stress situations, and difficult social interactions. Typically, an individual is inclined towards this condition before experiencing his or her first episode. Then, a specific situation or circumstantial trigger may prompt symptoms to manifest.

Should you or someone you love be wrestling with the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, you may experience an additional burden in trying to answer the question, “why?”

This is not unusual for someone diagnosed with a disability, mental illness, or mood disorder. While it is okay to ponder the causes of schizoaffective disorder, be aware that there may never be concrete answers to your questions. However, you can incorporate truth into this situation by moving forward with honesty and perseverance.

Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder

Be open and honest with medical professionals who can guide you on the right treatment paths. More so, dedicate time and energy to following the plans they suggest. As you progress in the healing process, continue to communicate symptoms and questions you have.

It is like the saying goes, “the only stupid question is one never asked.” Take comfort in knowing that even questions without answers can still lead to solutions.



*Please note: All research for this article is compiled from direct and third party sources. Mention of programs, organizations and companies does not imply support of The National Benefit Authority.  Pictures are for creative purposes only; they are not intended to sell or promote products for the NBA and belong to the accredited individual, organization or company.

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