Yesterday, I featured a guest post from Celia Aletta Franco-Mora, who was kind enough to let me repost her story about living with schizophrenia. More specifically, Celia talked about having schizoaffective disorder, depressive type. And this brings me to the fact there are several different schizophrenia disorders.
There is schizophrenia, which is what most people are most familiar with. Critical symptoms of schizophrenia are delusions or hallucinations. Disorganized behavior and speech also are frequent symptoms experienced by those who battle this particular mental illness. Lastly, individuals who battle schizophrenia often have issues with problem solving and memory, although as the movie A Beautiful Mind demonstrates, everyone is different.
Schizoaffective disorder has the same core symptoms of schizophrenia, symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. However, schizoaffective disorder also features symptoms of mood disorders like depression. So when Celia said yesterday that she lives with depressive type schizoaffective disorder, it means she experiences symptoms of depression alongside the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.
There is also schizotypal disorder. Schizotypal patients will experience the core psychotic symptoms common to both schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. However, schizotypal disorder includes personality disorder symptoms. For example, it is often very difficult for schizotypal patients to form close relationships or manage their emotions. This makes it similar in some ways to other personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder.
And the fact that schizotypal and schizoaffective disorders overlap with other mental health conditions can make proper diagnosis a challenge. As I’ve said elsewhere, a proper diagnosis is important so that the patient’s medical professional can prescribe the correct medication and can utilize the most effective therapy. This is why the best diagnostic approach is to view a patient over an extended period of time, rather than only at the first appointment or first few appointments. It is also why it is so important to closely monitor someone when they start a new medication or change medications.
Celia’s post yesterday also included one other term I want to touch on, which is anosognosia, which is a fancy Greek term for lacking awareness or insight. In other words, it means not being able to recognize the realities of their condition. These patients don’t realize that their symptoms are part of a known condition. This can be particularly dangerous because it can be a barrier to recovery.
Lastly, I want to point out that when I use the word psychotic, I am using it in the clinical sense. Too many people use psychotic loosely, trying to describe behaviors they don’t agree with or don’t understand. They throw it around as an insult, which sadly only contributes to the stigma surrounding mental illness. This is why it is so important to differentiate proper clinical terms, which are good, as opposed to improper uses of those terms, which are harmful and fuel stigma.
Hopefully, this discussion has helped shine more light on the types of battles facing those who live with schizo-disorders. And as always, thanks for reading.