According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Estimates of the prevalence of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders in the U.S. range between 0.25% and 0.64%.” Now, while that statistic may seem small, when considering the U.S. population that amounts to roughly between one and two million people that are struggling with a sometimes debilitating mental health disorder. Further, similar numbers surround schizoaffective disorder.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains, “Schizoaffective is relatively rare, with a lifetime prevalence of only 0.3%.” However, as we have just seen with schizophrenia, such statistics represent roughly a million people that are potentially struggling with a disorder that can be a great impediment to living a safe and healthy life.
As with garnering an understanding of any mental health disorder, it can be quite helpful to first attain a respected and clinically accepted definition of schizophrenia. According to the NIH, “Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and disturbances in thought, perception, and behavior.” In addition, “Traditionally, schizophrenia may involve positive symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, formal thought disorders, and negative symptoms, such as paucity of speech, anhedonia, and lack of motivation.”
While these symptoms can certainly be severe, it is important to understand that they often don’t always exist in unison. These symptoms are also progressive in severity. This is because schizophrenia exists in stages.
Understanding the Phases of Schizophrenia
Primarily, schizophrenia can be broken down into three stages (or phases). These stages are known as the prodromal stage, the active or “acute” stage, and the residual stage.
#1. The Prodromal Stage
This stage occurs when the symptoms of schizophrenia first start to surface. The symptoms of the prodromal phase can be minor and thus slightly harder to detect. An individual in the prodromal stage of schizophrenia may experience:
- Increased isolation from loved ones
- Obsessive thoughts about certain people or institutions
- Noticeable disruptions to their sleeping and eating patterns
#2. The Active Stage
This is the stage that is often most associated with schizophrenia because it tends to be the most visible and the most alarming. An individual in the active stage of schizophrenia may experience:
- Visual and audible hallucinations
- Delusional thinking
- Troubles putting together thoughts and their speech may appear incoherent or “confused”
#3. The Residual Stage
During this stage of schizophrenia, the symptoms begin to lessen from those of the active stage. However, this does not mean that the symptoms are still not problematic. The following are some, but not all, of the symptoms that an individual may experience in the residual stage:
- Anxiety and depression; often associated with the severity of their experience during the active stage
- Worsened delusional thinking and attempts to make sense of these thoughts
- Furthered isolation and increased fearfulness of another “active stage” episode occurring
Understanding Schizoaffective Disorder
It is important to understand that it schizoaffective disorder is a completely different diagnosis than that of schizophrenia. However, they do share many of the same characteristics and stages. The primary difference is that schizoaffective disorder primarily manifests itself in the form of one of two mood disorders: Bipolar disorder and depressive disorder.
Further, the stages of schizoaffective disorder can occur in the same cycle that schizophrenia does. However, they also include the symptoms of one of the two types of mood disorders mentioned.
For example, a person with schizoaffective disorder and bipolar mood symptoms may experience manic and depressive symptoms as they are also cycling through the three stages of schizophrenia. A person with schizoaffective disorder and depressive symptoms will experience depressive episodes but will not experience any mania.
How the Phoenix Recovery Center Can Help
Here at The Phoenix Recovery Center, we do not believe in “cookie-cutter,” “one-size-fits-all” recovery. This is why we treat all of our clients on an individualized basis, creating a customized recovery plan specifically for them.
Regarding clients that come to us struggling with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, we have multiple programs by which we can create a foundation of treatment. For clients that need more attentive care from the beginning, we have a residential program that can help them manage their symptoms and regain their footing in a more closely monitored way.
Now, for clients that are struggling with symptoms but have the capabilities to continue with their day-to-day lives, we have exceptional programs that can offer the care needed. For anyone that feels like mental illness is the end of living a “normal” life, we are here to show them that this is not the case. In addition, we are here to prove that recovery can be the beginning of an exceptional life. For more information on these two disorders and how to get started receiving help, please contact The Phoenix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185.