The term schizophrenia can be a loaded one for those unfamiliar with the specifics of this mental health disorder. This is because schizophrenia has long been a “catch-all” mental illness people have used to describe someone exhibiting severe symptoms of mental illness. This has not only stigmatized the disorder but it has also minimized the complexities of it. Schizophrenia is not as straightforward as many people may think. It has its own scale of stages and severities as well as other “subtypes” such as schizoaffective disorder.
The question regarding parental concerns about schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder can be answered in two parts. One, the truth is that these disorders tend to be rare in adolescents. The estimates are that less than one percent of young people are affected by them. Two, if your daughter begins to exhibit any of the warning signs that are associated with these disorders, it would typically be concerning enough to seek professional mental health care as soon as possible.
What Exactly Is Schizophrenia?
One of the best ways to combat misinformation surrounding a certain mental illness is by understanding the clinical aspects of the disorder. A publication of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Schizophrenia, by Manassa Hany, Baryiah Rehman, Yusra Azhar, and Jennifer Chapman, is an ideal source for those looking for a basic understanding of this mental health disorder.
According to the publication, “Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disturbances in thought, perception, and behavior.” It is the severity of these symptoms that have tended to categorize individuals struggling with schizophrenia on the more “extreme” spectrum of mental illness. However, it is important to note that individuals struggling with schizophrenia do not always display all of these symptoms. What’s more, many times these symptoms manifest in more minimal ways.
There is also a misconception that individuals struggling with schizophrenia are unaware of their mental health issues. This is simply untrue. Many people who struggle with schizophrenia are aware that they are experiencing symptoms of mental illness. However, they are not always able to express what they are feeling. That is why it can be critical to recognize some of the warning signs of schizophrenia.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Schizophrenia
The warning signs of schizophrenia can be both subtle and significantly noticeable, which is all the more reason to understand the entire spectrum of symptoms. Here are some, but not all, of those early warning signs:
- An individual may become unusually suspicious of people and places.
- They may begin to exhibit issues at school and experience an academic decline.
- An individual may appear unusually lethargic and uninterested in activities they once enjoyed.
- They may have trouble retaining close relationships.
- Perhaps the most visible warning sign is when an individual begins to experience delusions and hallucinations.
Now, many of these warning signs are also shared by those struggling with schizoaffective disorder. However, it is important to understand that these are two separate mental health disorders.
What Exactly Is Schizoaffective Disorder?
The primary difference between schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder is that individuals experiencing the latter exhibit more signs of a mood disorder. Individuals with schizoaffective disorder tend to feel more detached from reality, whereas individuals struggling with schizophrenia experience more psychotic symptoms.
Ultimately, to be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, an individual has to exhibit prolonged symptoms of a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder or a depressive disorder. At the same time, they must exhibit a few of the criteria for schizophrenia. It is the co-occurring aspect of these two disorders that can often lead to schizoaffective disorder being misdiagnosed as schizophrenia. However, being able to spot some of the mood-related symptoms of schizoaffective disorder can be highly beneficial in avoiding that pitfall.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Schizoaffective Disorder
The following are a few of the specific symptoms associated with schizoaffective disorder:
- An individual exhibits prolonged periods of heightened behavior, more commonly known as “mania.”
- They exhibit signs of depression, such as excessive feelings of loneliness, sadness, and/or emptiness.
- An individual may appear excessively anxious and worried for no particular reason.
- They may express feelings of wanting to harm themselves or others.
How Clearview Girls Academy Can Help
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we want to be wholly transparent in that we can only take a certain number of students every year. We have to ensure that we have the capacity to care for all of our students’ needs. It is for this reason that we only take students who we know we have the full capability of helping completely.
If we cannot take a student who is struggling with more severe symptoms of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, we will do our best to find someone who can. It has always been our mission to help young women recover from their issues of mental illness and/or life-controlling issues no matter what. Whether it is with us directly or not, we will be here to take the hand of anyone who reaches out. This is our promise.
There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation in the public sphere about schizophrenia. This includes the miscategorization of schizophrenia as one specific disorder. As with most mental health disorders, there are variations, types, and scales of schizophrenia. This includes a disorder called schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder can be just as damaging as schizophrenia but is less understood. The good news is that there are effective treatments to combat both mental health disorders. If your daughter may be experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, please don’t wait to seek professional care. We can help. For more information on schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or other issues of mental health, reach out to Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484.