A-Z Teen Health Glossary

Teen Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment

Teen schizoaffective disorder is a disorder that causes mood disorder symptoms, such as depression and mania, and schizophrenic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations.

What Does Teen Schizoaffective Disorder Look Like?

  • Teens with schizoaffective disorder experience delusions and hallucinations that are often characteristic of a psychosis. The hallucinations and delusions can range in intensity, per individual.
  • Teens with schizoaffective disorder experience strange mood patterns, experiencing times of being elevated and depressed, and sometimes both at the same time. However, some teens may only experience a depressed mood.

Signs of a Teen Schizoaffective Disorder

Apathy toward old hobbies

Emotionally distant

Sudden loss of appetite

Incoherent speech



What Kinds of Schizoaffective Disorder Exist?

Bipolar Subtype - Characterized by a combination of symptoms related to both schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder or manic depression, including severe mood swings varying in length (usually several days or weeks).

Depressive Subtype - Characterized by depressive episodes including extreme exhaustion, apathy, sadness, and excessive sleeping, but no mania (hyperactivity).

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Teen Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment | Paradigm Malibu

What Are The Causes Of Teen Schizoaffective Disorder?

The greatest risk factor for developing a schizoaffective disorder is generally family history of the same illness or other forms of psychosis, although there are a few other risks associated with the development of a schizoaffective disorder in teens, including:

Drug use: Overuse of mind-altering substances. Drugs that can induce symptoms of psychosis include methamphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, alcohol, amphetamines, and psychedelics. Some drugs, like ecstasy, can produce lasting or persistent psychosis even after single use in certain individuals.

Trauma: An extremely stressful event triggering latent symptoms. Trauma is entirely subjective, and a horrific event witnessed by multiple people may only leave one or two struggling with traumatic mental health issues afterwards.

Medical history: A history of psychosis prior to developing mood swings. A schizoaffective disorder may not appear until after a teen has already experienced previous instances of temporary psychosis, such as through a brief psychotic disorder.


of the population is affected by schizoaffective disorder


young people in the US experience psychosis yearly


is the estimated lifetime risk of suicide in patients with bipolar symptoms

How Can I Help My Teen with a Schizoaffective Disorder?

Provide support at home – it’s not easy living with the symptoms of a schizoaffective disorder, and it can be especially frustrating and confusing to go through episodes of psychosis or experience manic thoughts after being diagnosed. Be sure to help support your teen emotionally and help them feel comfortable being themselves and help them understand that it’s okay to struggle with their condition. Work with them to maintain strict schedules and stick to treatment plans. Another way to help is to communicate with their therapist and understand what you should or shouldn’t be doing to best help your teen.

Watch out for triggers – it also helps to identify things and events that might trigger certain symptoms, especially delusions or hallucinations. Help your teen plan out their daily activities in a way that helps them avoid these triggers. Another important factor is to help your teen manage their emotions by encouraging them to engage in activities that might reduce their stress levels and help them feel better about themselves. Analyze their current behavior and help them adjust it to be healthier. Take a non-judgmental approach when helping your teen.

Learn more about the disorder – it’s difficult to empathize with someone when you don’t understand what they’re going through. Internalizing the characteristics of the disorder by learning about it can, however, go a long way towards helping you connect with your teen and better understand how they feel. To someone with no history of mental illness, psychosis and depression can be very confusing and irrational. The thoughts and feelings your teen are experiencing may be entirely alien to you, and very frightening. Calmly learn more about your teen’s disorder and you will have a better chance at helping them cope.

What Types of Teen Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment Are Available?

Teen schizoaffective disorder treatment typically focuses on various forms of psychotherapy, with occasional medical intervention based on the severity of an individual’s symptoms.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy includes mentally and behaviorally-centered approaches, in which therapists help teens to address and clarify any delusions or hallucinations and evaluate and implement behaviors to help replace unhealthy tendencies or habits. Therapists also work with teens during teen schizoaffective disorder treatment to address any symptoms of depression or mania they may be experiencing, and work to alleviate anxiety and change unhealthy thinking patterns.

Group Therapy

Different from one-on-one talk therapy sessions, group therapy focuses instead on utilizing the social dynamic of a group to help patients cooperate and work through their issues. At times, group therapy sessions can also be extremely helpful in assuring teenagers that they’re not alone and that other people understand where they’re coming from and don’t judge them for their experience. Through group therapy, teens can also learn to view their illness objectively by hearing about it through another person’s perspective.

Along these lines, therapists can also work with parents and families to recognize how the teen’s illness is affecting them, and to help everyone work together as to how to best provide support. This type of therapy, known as family therapy, can be invaluable in helping provide the teen with a healthy environment that can support their full and lasting recovery.


Medications are sometimes prescribed during teen schizoaffective disorder treatment in order to help diminish symptoms of psychosis. These can sometimes be dangerous for a teen’s safety. Antidepressants may also be prescribed in cases where a teen experiences severe depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. Mood-stabilizing drugs are also sometimes used to help teens cope with bipolar mood swings.

Teen Schizoaffective Disorder Treatment at Paradigm Malibu

At Paradigm Malibu, providing a safe place that efficacious towards treatment is important. This is not a clinic, and it’s not a clinical facility, but it is a place for mental health and therapeutic practices. This means bringing teens out of hectic environments and away from the pressures of home and school, while giving them the room and space they need to better cope with their internal problems.

Classroom-style learning sessions and certain group activities promote social interaction, while the setting and amenities of Paradigm Malibu’s different locations helps teens find ways to productively and healthily spend their time.

A Safe Place

Teens with delusions and hallucinations can be a danger to themselves, which is why safety is of paramount importance. Through the use of trained and professional staff, we at Paradigm Malibu ensure that your teen’s psychosis will not escalate to dangerous levels.

Depressive and manic symptoms can also be potentially dangerous. Some manic behavior can be self-destructive or exceptionally risky, and teens with depressive thoughts can potentially be prone to escalating self-harm.

The Benefits of Nature

Being out and about is more than just good for a lungful of fresh air. Spending more time outdoors is shown to improve mental health and help ease anxieties, as well as decrease symptoms of depression. By encouraging group activities and social behavior in the outdoors, Paradigm Malibu tries to take advantage of the benefits that nature offers on a therapeutic level.

The love I have for each and every member of the Paradigm Malibu staff is too great to express. Their knowledge, compassion and love for my son has made all the difference. Highly recommend.

– Tommy

Frequently Asked Questions About Teen Schizoaffective Disorder

How do I tell the difference between a bipolar disorder and the bipolar subtype of schizoaffective disorder?

The main difference is that teen schizoaffective disorder is characterized by psychosis in addition to the cycling between depressive and manic symptoms. What this means is that if a person experiences depressive or bipolar symptoms on top of hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there) and delusions (a thought or belief that is highly irrational and easily contradicted by reality), then it is possible they’re struggling with a schizoaffective disorder.

How many people experience this disorder?

As studies usually go, the results are very different depending on the region you’re in, but it’s rare enough that less than a percent of the average population is affected by this disorder. It’s estimated that around 0.3% to 0.5% of the population experiences schizoaffective symptoms, with the largest estimate being at just over one percent, at 1.1%. There is no obvious gender bias, meaning both genders are probably equally likely to be affected by it.

Is schizoaffective disorder curable in any way?

There is no effective cure, but symptoms can be managed and reduced to the point where a normal life without dire consequences can be possible. Teens are highly adaptive, and with some therapeutic intervention and possibly the use of medication, most teens with schizoaffective disorder can find relief. However, the disorder cannot be completely removed from a person’s mind. Managing it is an ongoing process, and there can be setbacks at times. It’s important to never lose hope and continue to support your teen.

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