Psychotic depression is a mental disorder in which clinical depression, which is a difficult enough condition to experience on its own, is combined with psychotic symptoms. This makes things much worse, and explains why psychotic depression affects roughly a quarter of all people who have to be admitted to hospital with depression. It needs urgent and specialist treatment.
Fortunately, the mental health care and treatment that is available for psychotic depression is generally very effective and can result in recovery relatively quickly, usually within a year. If you develop psychotic depression, specific drugs will be the mainstay of your treatment but other therapies such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and behavioural therapies may be used.
This article on psychotic depression is written by Kathryn Senior, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.
What are the symptoms of psychotic depression?
The term psychosis is used to describe a mental condition that makes someone unable to tell the difference between what’s in their imagination and what’s happening in the real world. Some people who experience psychosis describe it as like living a ‘waking dream’.
Psychosis is a symptom that can occur alongside several other mental health conditions. People with psychotic depression experience both the typical symptoms of clinical depression and the additional psychotic symptoms.
Symptoms of clinical depression include emotional symptoms such as chronic low mood, feelings of hopelessness, irritability and lack of confidence, plus physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, loss of libido and trouble sleeping at night/sleeping during the day.
Psychotic symptoms can include:
The difference between psychotic depression and other psychotic disorders is that people with psychotic depression are aware that their experiences that show themselves as psychotic symptoms are not real. A person suffering from psychotic depression may appear withdrawn and be difficult to talk to, may neglect personal grooming and hygiene, and may get angry for no apparent reason. Psychotic depression also carries a high risk of suicide, which is why getting effective treatment as soon as possible is important. It can be life-saving.