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I am asking as I have this condition and I am hoping to gather more data about my particular demographic, in order to give me a better idea as to what they are doing, as well to lead me to how those of us with this condition fare later in life.

What is the long-term prognosis for schizoaffective disorder?

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No, not at all. I understand the classification, I wasn't sure how the tagging system worked, thank you so much for the edit. – ApisGirl Dec 1 '12 at 19:50

Note, this is not my area, and not medical advice. If you need help with this you should consult an appropriately trained health practitioner.

To consult the scientific literature, do a search like "schizoaffective disorder prognosis" on Google Scholar.

For example, Robinson et al (1999) provide some relevant empirical data. The sample was 50% female and had a mean age of 25.6 (SD=6.3) years. To quote their abstract:

Background We examined relapse after response to a first episode of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

Methods Patients with first-episode schizophrenia were assessed on measures of psychopathologic variables, cognition, social functioning, and biological variables and treated according to a standardized algorithm. The sample for the relapse analyses consisted of 104 patients who responded to treatment of their index episode and were at risk for relapse.

Results Five years after initial recovery, the cumulative first relapse rate was 81.9% (95% confidence interval [CI], 70.6%-93.2%); the second relapse rate was 78.0% (95% CI, 46.5%-100.0%). By 4 years after recovery from a second relapse, the cumulative third relapse rate was 86.2% (95% CI, 61.5%-100.0%). Discontinuing antipsychotic drug therapy increased the risk of relapse by almost 5 times (hazard ratio for an initial relapse, 4.89 [99% CI, 2.49-9.60]; hazard ratio for a second relapse, 4.57 [99% CI, 1.49-14.02]). Subsequent analyses controlling for antipsychotic drug use showed that patients with poor premorbid adaptation to school and premorbid social withdrawal relapsed earlier. Sex, diagnosis, obstetric complications, duration of psychotic illness before treatment, baseline symptoms, neuroendocrine measures, methylphenidate hydrochloride challenge response, neuropsychologic and magnetic resonance imaging measures, time to response of the initial episode, adverse effects during treatment, and presence of residual symptoms after the initial episode were not significantly related to time to relapse.

Conclusions There is a high rate of relapse within 5 years of recovery from a first episode of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. This risk is diminished by maintenance antipsychotic drug treatment.


  • Robinson, D., Woerner, M. G., Alvir, J. M. J., Bilder, R., Goldman, R., Geisler, S., ... & Lieberman, J. A. (1999). Predictors of relapse following response from a first episode of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, 56(3), 241. FULL TEXT
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I'm not sure whether you're looking for academic research, personal stories, or something inbetween, but I can provide one anecdotal data point.

I was in a long-term relationship with someone diagnosed with (among other things) schizoaffective disorder, starting when we were both in our early twenties, and we're still, sporadically, in touch. Our relationship was affected by her condition in many ways, but ended for reasons unconnected with it.

She continues to be affected by mental health issues about twenty years after first being diagnosed, but during that time has developed and refined her own coping strategies, and the last time I heard from her (about a year ago), both she and her (adorable) daughter were doing well.

It may interest you to know that she is also obsessed with bees.

A tangent: my second-hand experience has led me to be suspicious of labels like "schizoaffective disorder". Health professionals in this area seem to be a lot better at coming up with impressive-sounding names for the experiences and behaviours of people outside the mainstream of "normal" brain function than they are at actually providing tangible assistance ... your mileage, of course, may vary.

Having a good network of friends and family, on the other hand, can work wonders :-)

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I'm looking for academic, anecdotal, the whole gambit. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find good information on this disorder dealing with folks in my demographic. And thank you for the story, I'm glad she's well. On the mental health bit, I tend to take whatever label gets me the most help. Schizoaffective-bipolar type apparently does that, so I'll take it. – ApisGirl Dec 3 '12 at 7:13
Zero: Your answer probably contains useful content for ApisGirl, however this community expects academic research in answers, or at least scientific explanations. Can you add one or two comments containing the relevant information from this answer? I think it's valuable information, but it doesn't meet this community's standards for an answer. – Josh Gitlin Dec 4 '12 at 12:55
Hahaha ... you are literally suggesting that the experience of someone affected by mental illness be pushed to the sidelines, in favour of (as yet nonexistent) answers containing the correct jargon. – user2464 Dec 4 '12 at 16:09
From the faq: "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face". So the question is on topic. From this meta post's description of appropriate answers: "avoid ... Making statements based on opinion; back them up with references or personal experience". But sure, delete the answer and keep it a cosy little white coat club if you like ... – user2464 Dec 4 '12 at 16:17
experience of someone affected by mental illness be pushed to the sidelines No one is saying that. The way the question is phrased also indicates (or strongly implies) that studies and clinical data would be most helpful to the OP. – Chuck Sherrington Dec 5 '12 at 0:28

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