What exactly is psychotic depression?
Psychotic depression is a serious mental illness and can even be a psychiatric emergency.
The term “psychotic depression” is used in order to describe an intricate form of depression which is often accompanied by various psychotic symptoms that include paranoia, hallucinations or delusions.
The psychosis symptoms have a tendency to be “mood-congruent”. This means that their themes often carry self-deprecating and negative aspects.
This type of depression happens in bipolar disorders or in major depressive disorder.
Depression that is a consequence of schizoaffective disorder of schizophrenia is a different kind of disease and should not be mixed up with psychotic depression.
People who are suffering from severe depressive illnesses are more likely to have psychotic symptoms. It is considered that roughly 20 percent of people who have a major depressive disorder suffer from those symptoms.
For many people, the first signs of depression will start with symptoms of irritability or sad mood, changes in sleep, appetite or energy.
As time goes by, these symptoms tend to become more and more serious, ultimately resulting in symptoms of helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt and even suicidality.
If not given proper attention and medical care, a person’s depression can become psychotic, in some cases even resulting in a psychiatric emergency because of the increased risk of suicide which is often accompanied by this illness.
What causes psychotic depression?
Right now, no definite gene which would be linked with psychotic depression has been found.
Nevertheless, it is broadly accepted that people suffering from this form of depression have a greater chance to have some other family member with a severe mental illness.
Likewise, it is considered that there is no chemical or specific brain region which would directly cause this illness.
Recent studies have shown that people with this condition are usually more likely to have changes in their hormones and neurotransmitters than people who don’t have psychotic depression.
It is generally considered that women are more likely to experience this condition than men. Like in all of the other mental illnesses, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic background play no role in the occurrence of psychotic depression in a person.
How do we treat psychotic depression?
Psychotic depression often carries an increased risk of suicide, meaning that people who are suffering from this condition frequently need inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, at least until a proper solution for effectively treating their symptoms is provided.
However, right now there are no known psychotic depression treatments that have been officially approved by the FDA, but there is a decent amount of evidence that 2 treatment options are productive for psychotic depression.
Those 2 treatments are a combination of antipsychotic medications and antidepressant medications or electroconvulsive therapy.
Before taking any further steps in trying to cure their illness, individuals and their families need to talk about all viable treatment options and possibilities with their psychiatrist.
ECT has been proven as the best treatment available for individuals with severe psychiatric illness, sometimes resulting in life-saving results in just a couple of weeks.
However, ECT can cause severe side effects in many people, such as impaired memory, but still remains the best option for people in need of an effective and quick solution due to suicidal thoughts, poor nutrition and many other serious complications accompanied by psychotic depression.
Psychotic depression has been treated by the use of antidepressants for almost 50 years. Even though these medications are often helpful, they may take a few months before actually presenting some positive effects on a person.
The importance of psychotherapy cannot be minimized when talking about viable psychotic depression treatments.
Although psychotherapy is not suggested as the primary treatment of this mental illness, it still can make a difference in the overall treatment process, especially when using evidence-based methods like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Psychotic depression and current prognosis
The majority of people suffering from psychotic depression will make a significant recovery with effective treatment.
However, the severity of this mental illness and the often occurrences of relapses in many patients suggest that psychotherapy and antidepressant treatments are much needed in order to prevent falling back into the illness.
The non-judgmental and empathic support provided by ones family and friends can be extremely helpful in dealing with such an illness.
With this support combined with proper psychiatric care, many people suffering from psychotic depression can live meaningful lives surrounded by their loved ones.