It’s sad to say, but when one thinks of the definition of crazy, schizophrenia and other similar examples of psychosis would probably show up pretty high on the list. But to simply dismiss this line of illnesses as a form of, well, “craziness”, overshadows the fact that it affects people who may seem entirely normal to the outside world, and struggle daily with problems they can’t articulate to the common stranger.
Schizoaffective disorders are an umbrella term, used in the industry to describe a condition where someone displays signs and symptoms of a disconnection from reality, and a major, serious mood disorder. Living with one of these two illnesses is already tough – both together make life a challenge, to put it mildly.
People diagnosed with psychotic symptoms and schizoaffective disorders aren’t the wild, thrashing individuals in the straitjacket that many make them out to be. They’re people, forced to live with a distorted and untrustworthy version of reality – regular, normal people, given brains that are hard-wired to misinform them and feed them nuggets of false information.
What it Means to be Schizoaffective
A schizoaffective disorder is highlighted by two distinct subsets of symptoms: namely, a problem with mood control, and a problem with accepting reality.
In medical terms, these are called mood symptoms and psychotic symptoms. But really, what this means is that being schizoaffective means you feel much too happy, or much too sad – while seeing things that aren’t there, being delusional, hearing voices or even experiencing hallucinations.
We’re going to take a look at these separately, because while a schizoaffective disorder is a disease of the total mind, its split between mood and psychotic symptoms is important. Why? Because in a sense, this is a modular disorder. That means that the degree to which these symptoms affect you can fluctuate and vary wildly from person to person.
Basically, some symptoms act out stronger in certain people than others. At the end of the day, one person’s schizoaffective life looks absolutely and totally different from another – even though they both technically are the same disease.
Symptoms that have to do with the disconnect between a patient and reality include:
- Voices in your head or someplace else, when there aren’t any
- Visual hallucinations, or other delusions
- Touching, smelling, or tasting things that aren’t there
- Fear of being watched, or stalked
- Fear that your mind is not your own
- A power delusion (believing you’re sacred, a messiah, or possess magical or miraculous powers)
On the other hand, mood-related symptoms include:
- Severe depression, including (in the worst of cases) suicidal thoughts
- Manic episodes (euphoria, intense joy)
- Anger and irritability
- Loss of interest in activities, food, and other enjoyable aspects of life
- Hyperactivity, including slurred and rapid speech
Even with a simple, furtive glance, it’s easy to see that the symptoms to this disease can be very, very different from person to person. What matters, is that the trademark fundamentals to schizoaffective disorders are identified, namely: Either depression or euphoria, with symptoms of confusion and fright, delusions, paranoia and constant disorganization.
Schizoaffective disorders often occur in cases where families have extended histories with mental illness, or after hefty trauma. It’s also possible to develop schizoaffective symptoms from steroid and psychoactive drug use. However, all of these things are pure speculation.
Want to know the truth? The truth is we don’t know why you got sick. We don’t know what caused the disease. No one does, actually – it could be genetics, environmental toxins, brain chemistry or something else entirely. And we sure can’t tell you that we’re going to make it go away forever, no one can.
But we can help you understand it, curb the difficult symptoms, and lessen its impact on your life to such a point that it never, ever has to hinder you from living life to its fullest, and enjoying every single precious moment you have on this Earth with family and friends. To do that, we employ a lot of useful, proven techniques, until we find the ones that best work for you.
Bringing Back Reality with Schizoaffective Treatment
Treating a schizoaffective disorder patient is complex. The basic plan of action is composed of a bit of a multi-step process:
- Remove you from a harmful situation if need be, and offer hospitalization in the case of severe cases, like attempted suicide
- Use psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help you list harmful behaviors that contribute to your condition
- Eliminate them, unscrupulously, and replace them with new experiences and enjoyable habits
- Supplement medication (anti-psychotic medication, antidepressants, and mood stabilizers) based on your diagnosis to prevent episodes
Yeah, we know – this looks incredibly vague. But we can’t tell you much more, because your own path can’t be predetermined. We don’t know how to help you until you come to us for help – then we’ll be able to tell you how many hours of therapy we recommend, what kind of medication you should consider, and what traditional and alternative treatment methods we can explore together to help you make a distinction between what goes on in your head, and what’s really happening around you.
Schizophrenia is one half of the disorder’s major components, and it’s also probably the scariest half. We’re not going to lie here, there are few things on Earth as scary as being unable to trust your senses. There’s speculating that we’re all a part of the Matrix, and then there’s living a life where your connection to the program feels wonky as hell.
But all of that aside, schizophrenia is serious – and it’s a condition that affects over 3.2 million everyday Americans according to some of the latest statistics. Imagine that – over one percent of the country suffers from a disorder that most of would’ve thought is much rarer. Why isn’t it talked about often? Because no one wants to talk about it.
And why would they want to – the realities of schizophrenia are terrifying to say the least, so pretending that it’s not a prevalent issue for millions is easier than realizing that it’s common enough in society to affect one in a hundred people.
Here at Vantage Point, we don’t stay silent about this kind of stuff. We’re here to talk openly and loudly about schizophrenia and other related illnesses, and we’re here for you.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia comes from the root word “schizo”, which you’ll recognize in the term “schism”. In relation to that, it’s a disease that has to do with the inability to keep things apart. Basically, you can’t differentiate between what’s real and what isn’t.
In some cases, its mild symptoms are more manageable – hallucinations, or voices that, with appropriate therapy, you can tell aren’t real. In other cases, schizophrenia can be much more severe, with elaborate and complicated delusions, imaginary situations and people, and entire events that never happened. Sufferers of schizophrenia experience:
- Dysfunctional (nonsensical) thought patterns
- Agitated movement/lack of coordination
The last and first points are the most severe and commonly associated symptoms schizophrenia has, and tie in directly with the illness’ disconnection with reality.
Schizophrenia is a Lifelong Struggle
Unfortunately, actual schizophrenia is not a temporary condition. Hallucinations, delusions and other symptoms of the disease can be the result of drug use, concussions or other physical factors, and people can suffer psychotic breaks, but the disease itself is one you struggle with for the rest of your life.
That doesn’t mean you have to succumb to it. Struggle is never a bad thing – struggle is how we grow, how we build our strength and learn to take on the world, more resilient than ever. Sure, your life won’t be as easy as some other people have had it, but in exchange, you’ll cherish life’s sweetest real moments more than anyone without schizophrenia could ever imagine.
But to get there, you need help. That’s where we come in. We offer treatment options like:
- Antipsychotic medication
- Behavioral therapy
- Inpatient treatment (private hospitalization, etc.)
- Outpatient treatment (group therapy, etc.)
Some of these may be unfamiliar terms – and even with a textbook at hand, they might seem vague or unspecific – but each one of these options is meant to help you explore the full extent of your disorder, and then help us find ways to alleviate your symptoms and deal with them on a lifelong basis. In other words – they’re vague because we need you and your details to actually get to the specifics.
BIPOLAR SCHIZOAFFECTIVE DISORDER
Schizoaffective disorders actually come in two forms – one of these forms is the bipolar schizoaffective disorder. The schizophrenia aspect of the illness does not change significantly, but what does change is the mood aspect of the illness – basically, on top of delusions, you may suffer soaring manic episodes and crashing depressive episodes.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it and say that schizophrenia and related mental illnesses aren’t a total scourge of the mind – and a hard one to overcome at that – but it’s not unmanageable. In fact, countless sufferers of schizoaffective disorders live with their condition on a day-to-day basis, remaining functioning members of society thanks to their own unique blend of medication and therapy.
But what works for them will rarely work for you. That’s where we come in, in order to find your own specific way to make sure your symptoms don’t interfere with reality – a tall task, when the illness itself is about rejecting reality.
Explaining Bipolar Symptoms
On its own, a bipolar disorder is highlighted by the fact that patients undergo emotional extremes. Basically, bipolar is a combination of states of severe depression (sadness, anger, sorrow, irritability, numbness), and states of severe mania (delusion, euphoria, extreme elation).
At least that’s the classic structure you’ll read about everywhere else online and in textbooks. The truth is that beyond the three deviations to the usual bipolar formula of a manic depression, there are finer details that make every patient’s bipolar disorder a tad bit difficult. Bipolar symptoms include:
- Feeling unusually happy, restless and overconfident
- Engaging in risky situations, often involving sex, gambling, and life-threatening events
- Fast talking, faster thoughts, and a jumbled thought process
- Hard crashing into depression, severe sorrow
- Suicidal thoughts
- Slow speech, low energy/fatigue
- Total/significant loss of appetite
It may sound strange to diagnose “happiness” as a symptom of mental illness, but this isn’t your usual kind of joy. It’s the kind of joy where you wake up one day and feel as though you’re the best, happiest, most amazing creature on Earth. Followed up, not too much later, by the worst of the worst on the emotional spectrum.
It’s not easy to diagnose. Sometimes, a bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as depression – especially if the manic phase isn’t very obvious. We won’t lie to you – dealing with a bipolar disorder is not a walk in the park, and you’re going to be dealing with the symptoms of the disease all your life. But the good news is that you can deal with them. And with the right support, personal empowerment and mindfulness, life can be normal, and completely enjoyable.
Living with a Bipolar Schizoaffective Diagnosis
Bipolar is a lifelong condition in most cases, but we’re at the point with our science that we can diagnose it relatively quickly and – with your total cooperation – find out what sort of treatment options you best react to.
Here at Vantage Point, we look for long-term solutions. That’s not just a vague mission statement or some useless marketing blob – it’s a sentence we stand by. We don’t just prescribe you a bunch of pills, and send you along your way. Treatment, to us, means arming you with the tools you need to combat the disease for the rest of your life, including:
- Mood stabilizing medication
- Outpatient care (support groups and other remote therapies)
- Inpatient care (hospitalization, medication and 24/7 behavioral therapy)
- Various holistic modalities
Not every case needs hospitalization, and the exact kind and dosage of medication varies from one person to the next, depending on brain chemistry.
Remember – you are not your diagnosis. You are a person, and an extremely unique, beautiful being at that. The human mind is complex as it is, and the details of it change from individual to individual. Our art lies in identifying what aspects of modern science have best developed to tackle your specific case – and it’s an art we’re proud of.
DEPRESSIVE SCHIZOAFFECTIVE DISORDER
Imagine living without being quite sure that what you hear, smell, see and touch is real. To say that it’s hard to live with these symptoms is the understatement of the century – yet many thousands have to, against the odds, while fighting against labels like “insane” and “schizo”. And among them, some individuals have to tackle both the symptoms of schizophrenia, and depression.
On their own, these illnesses individually target millions of Americans. Schizophrenia, the inability to distinguish between what is real and what isn’t while experiencing delusions and hallucinations, is one of the scariest mental diagnosis a medical professional can make. And with the connotations around it, it’s a diagnosis no one wants to hear.
Depression and Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia it’s much more prevalent that most Americans would assume – and it’s far more manageable than most would fear. Sure, living with the illness isn’t “easy” – but when has life ever been easy? However, when coupled with depression, it can get a few degrees harder to deal with.
We at Vantage Point don’t shy away from tough cases. We know the effects of a depressive schizoaffective disorder, and we thoroughly understand the deadly combination that schizophrenia and depression can make. We’re not here to give you a meaningless piece of marketing copy, or shower you with useless, pitiful platitudes.
We’re also not uncaring enough to tell you to “suck it up”, or offer any among a million other pieces of ineffective advice. Instead, we’re here to be the professional realists. We offer flexible and unique treatment in a proprietary setting that is Vantage Point. When you’ve been diagnosed with depressive schizoaffective disorder, you’re most likely suffering from several among the following:
- Paranoid thoughts
- Delusions, and hallucinations
- Suicidal thoughts
- Slow speech
Your condition is a tough one. Your life is harder than most can imagine it to be. But it’s never, ever hopeless – even when it feels like it is. Trust us – we’ve helped others travel this road before.
Dealing with Depressive Schizoaffective Symptoms
This illness alone is a perfect example why there are a lot of issues surrounding the treatment of more complex diseases in our line of work: the textbook definition does not, in any capacity, encompass what it’s like to actually suffer from the disease because symptoms vary wildly from case to case.
That being said, dealing with both schizophrenia and depression – while a tall task – is doable, and thousands have successfully undergone treatment before you. You won’t ever totally rid yourself of the disease. It’ll always be there – because for whatever reason, be it genetics, a virus, or the environment, your brain was wired this way.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t hack the wiring a little with therapy and medication, and live a life free from severe depressive episodes, psychotic breaks, or delusions.
That’s why the Vantage Point way is so damn simple and effective: we meet you, speak with you, and work with you to find out not only what your illness entails, but who you are, how you cope with your condition, and how we can actively help you go further down the path that works best for you and life as it is, whether that means bringing you into our own specialized facilities, or helping you get set for life remotely.