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Psychotic Depression | How Psychotic Features Affect Mood Disorders

Major depression, a common condition in the United States, affects around 16.1 million Americans. Depression can range from a daily nuisance to a debilitating disorder, and it also increases the risk of suicide if left untreated. But what happens if you experience psychotic symptoms at the same time? Psychotic depression is a complex disorder that often requires treatment to address effectively. Learn more about major depression with psychotic features. 

What Is Psychosis?

Psychosis isn’t a diagnosis on its own; it’s a mental health symptom that several disorders can cause. Schizophrenia is the most predominant cause of psychosis, which can create delusions and hallucinations. However, panic disorders can also cause psychosis, as well as some stimulant medications, bipolar disorder, and other issues.

Psychosis is characterized by a loss of touch with reality. This can come in the form of delusions, which are firmly held beliefs that contradict reality or rationality. Psychosis can also come with hallucinations, which involve seeing or hearing things that aren’t there and can’t be perceived by other people. It can also come with disorganized thinking, which can cause cognitive issues and the inability to maintain cohesive trains of thought. 

Psychosis can cause different effects based on the mental health issue that’s causing it. For instance, panic disorders can cause psychosis that comes with paranoid delusions, where bipolar disorder can cause delusions of grandeur during manic phases. 

Can Depression Cause Psychosis?

Psychotic depression is also called major depression with psychotic features. That means psychosis is sometimes a symptom of a severe major depressive disorder. Psychosis, as a symptom of depression, often comes with psychotic symptoms that are different from psychosis caused by other disorders. Psychotic depression can come with delusions of worthlessness or failure. It may cause you to feel that everyone hates you or resents you. You may also feel that your activities or goals are pointless. Psychosis caused by schizophrenia may be more bizarre and doesn’t clearly tie back to specific emotions. 

Psychotic depression may seem like an escalation of everyday depression symptoms. For instance, there may be a fine line between feeling worthless and feeling like you were destined to be worthless, and nothing you can do will ever change that, which borders on delusional thinking. For that reason, psychotic depression is often very difficult to diagnose. Because of this, it often may go undiagnosed. 

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Treating Psychotic Depression

Though psychotic depression can be complex and challenging to diagnose, it can be treated. As with many mental health issues, the best results are often seen when the issue is treated sooner rather than later. But even long-standing mental health issues can be treated and managed. 

Psychotic depression is often treated with antipsychotic medications in conjunction with antidepressants. It can also be treated with psychotherapies that can help you better manage and deal with symptoms. However, mental health issues are complex, and the best treatment for your needs will be personalized to you when you meet with medical and clinical professionals. 

Sources

National Institute of Mental Health. (2020, January). Bipolar Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, February). Depression. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). What is Psychosis? Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/raise/what-is-psychosis.shtml

Kerr, M. (2048, December 09). Major Depression with Psychotic Features. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/psychotic-depression

Rothschild, A. (2013, July). Challenges in the treatment of major depressive disorder with psychotic features. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3686458/

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