People tend to rely on certain support structures in their lives. These structures serve as ways for people to alleviate fear and anxiety in an increasingly stressful world. There are certain things and certain people that we count on to alleviate our stress and anxiety at the end of the day. People can go into a panic when that support structure is taken away permanently. The build-up of stress and anxiety can exact a price on one’s mental health that most people simply can’t afford. The fear of this can sometimes lead to someone developing a case of separation anxiety. However, the field of mental health is a complicated field where even if your support structure is there, your mind says they’re not.
There is a dangerous psychological disorder known as schizoaffective disorder, which has interesting effects on human perception. The problem is highly similar to schizophrenia in symptoms and treatment, although schizoaffective disorder poses a much larger mental health risk. Both problems are common, with at least 10% of the population having experienced it at one point in their lives. Both have a tendency to generate the same range of side effects in patients. The primary difference between the two is that schizoaffective disorder does a significantly larger amount of emotional damage to patients than schizophrenia does. There is also the distinctive symptom of more serious cases of schizoaffective disorder, which echoes plots of science fiction B-movies rather closely.
The most distinctive symptom of schizoaffective disorder is that patients suddenly find that people in their lives have been…”replaced,” for lack of a better term. In one instance, a housewife saw her husband and believed he was a duplicate of her real husband. She believed that he was a fake despite his having the same physical features, personality, and voice. When asked why she felt that she was looking at a clever fake, she said that his nose seemed longer and his shoulders didn’t seem as broad as those of her “real” husband’s. These symptoms are typically only found in more extreme cases of this mental health disorder, but this is what is most cited as the main difference between schizoaffective disorder and the more recognizable schizophrenia.
This particular symptom is believed to be an outcrop of unwanted changes or emotional damage in the patient’s interpersonal relationships. By attributing the unwanted behavior or changes to a “duplicate,” the patient can feel safe in discarding their emotions for that person. This has the side effect of developing a sense of detachment around the “duplicate” in some, while others report feeling extreme levels of fear and anxiety. In theory, the reactions are affected by how had the patient’s delusions have gotten.
Another difference that some have noted is the perception of the voices that the patient hears. Both disorders cause someone to hear voices that aren’t really there. However, while schizophrenia causes people to perceive the voices as coming from their own minds, people with schizoaffective disorder experience it differently. These non-existent voices are heard via the ear, making it seem as if they are real voices from real people, rather than delusions. Most people believe that the difference lies in the brain tricking itself into believing there is actual sensory information, which most assume does not occur with the voices in schizophrenia.
Perhaps the most critical difference between the two is the degree of emotional healing that the patient and his loved ones would have to go through. Schizoaffective disorder tends to do more damage to personal relationships than regular schizophrenia. As such, there is usually more emotional healing needed for the people around the patient to make a full recovery than in schizophrenia. Like all serious mental health problems, the patient has to deal with the damage done to the people around him. However, in the case of schizoaffective disorder, there was likely damage or changes to the relationship in the first place.