Symptoms Of Psychotic Depression: Causes & Treatment Options

Psychotic depression is a type of major depression having features of psychosis. This mental illness is present in less number of people as compared to simple depression. Psychotic depression is also called by other names such as depressive psychosis, delusional depression etc. In this condition patient not only has symptoms of depression such as hopelessness and extreme sadness but also hallucination and delusion, both psychotic features.

Patient with psychotic illness sees and hears things that in reality are absent. He has fears and thoughts that are irrational. There are other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia which also has symptoms similar to those of psychotic depression, but the distinguishing point between both is that the person suffering from psychotic depression knows that his thoughts are not true.

The risk factor of psychotic depression is that the patient has suicidal tendency because of delusions.

Causes Of Psychotic Depression

The exact cause of psychotic depression is not known. Researchers are yet not able to find the reason why some patients having major depression have associated features of psychosis. Some researchers believe chemical imbalance in the brain is the cause, yet there is no proof found.

According to some, psychotic depression may be genetically related. The specific gene is not yet identified, but a person is at greater risk of suffering from this mental condition if his close relatives such as father or mother, sister or brother suffer from psychotic depression.

The condition is seen more among woman then in men. An estimate suggests that out of 10 patients admitted for depression, 4 may be having psychotic depression.

Signs And Symptoms Of Psychotic Depression

A person who suffers from psychotic depression has symptoms of major depression and symptoms of psychosis. Depression occurs when a person has negative feeling in his routine life. The feeling can be sadness, hopelessness, irritability, feeling of guilt etc. Patient may also present with other clinical features such as loss of appetite, insomnia, and extreme tiredness without any organic reason.

The psychotic symptoms pertain to those of delusion and illusion. The delusion that occurs in psychotic depression are those related to feeling of guilt, related to body. He may hear strange voices and ideas that may not be logical.

For example he may think that others are able to listen to his thoughts or they are trying to poison him or harm him in any way, although in reality it is not the case. He may hear voices that are not heard by other people near him. He may think he has some supernatural power and always boasts about it. Patient has thoughts of committing suicide.

Treatment Options For Psychotic Depression

Treatment of psychotic depressive patient usually requires hospitalization of the patient. A close monitoring and follow up is necessary for initial few days for the psychiatrist. The usual medicines prescribed for such patients are anti depressants and antipsychotic medicines. Both this medicines have been found effective in relieving the symptoms.

When oral medicines alone are not effective, patient may need ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). This treatment is performed in hospital. Patient is anesthetized and the psychiatrist administers controlled electric current through the brain. It causes seizure and has its effect on the neurotransmitters of brain. The treatment is effective when the person is having suicidal tendency and other psychotic symptoms.