Depressive psychosis is a serious mental health condition that presents with a major depressive episode. It is sometimes called psychotic depression. The DSM-5 states that a person must have signs of being in a major depressive episode and have psychotic characteristics to be diagnosed with this condition.
Some experts have difficulty distinguishing between psychosis and schizoaffective disorder, as the two conditions have similar symptoms. However, a substantial variation between the two is that someone with schizoaffective shows no symptoms of depression. Also, people with bipolar disorder may experience signs of depressive psychosis as part of their manic episodes.
Many features help distinguish traditional depression from psychotic varieties. Some experts believe that there is a regulatory problem with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis when psychotic elements are present. Several tests performed showed a problem with dexamethasone.
Tests revealed that psychotic symptoms during depression come with higher than normal cortisol levels after the body receives a dose of this hypothalamic-pituitary dexamethasone. This is based on evidence from studies published in an article in the National Institute of Health. Also, people with psychotic depression often have brain proportions that are more significant in the ventricular section, which is not the case with traditional depression.
Ten main signs of depressive psychosis
Delusions and hallucinations. they are similar but not the same. However, to further confuse things, they may coincide. Patients experiencing delusions and hallucinations represent approximately half of the patients diagnosed with depressive psychosis.
When a person has delusions, it is a belief or reality that they have, regardless of the evidence to the contrary. For example, a person may believe that he is heir to royalty even though nothing is further from the truth. If someone tries to refute their delusions, they can become combative by thinking that their loved ones or friends do not believe them.
Hallucinations occur when a person can see, hear, smell, or touch things that are not real. Many people with depressed psychosis can hear someone speaking to them or saying their name, as well as voices telling them what to do.
Also, they can smell burning things due to their altered state, such as believing that the house is on fire. Hallucinations can cause paranoia, as they freak out when the things they think and see are terrifying.
3. Delusions consistent with mood
Mood congruent delusion is a bit different than traditional delusion. A person with this problem has delusions based on his current mood. According to Daily mental healthThese delusions are often seen during manic episodes. They may believe that they have super powers and can control the weather or that they are celebrities and fear the paparazzi.
4. Sad affection
The general flat or sad effect that accompanies depression is often intensified when a person has psychotic tendencies. All the chaos that is happening in his mind is actually showing on his face.
During a psychotic state, a person is often unable to feel any pleasure. Anhedonia is the absence of joy even when it is something they love. For example, sitting by the ocean does not comfort them as it usually does, since the disorder is affecting their pleasure receptors.
6. Psychomotor reduction
When a person is depressed, it is not uncommon for there to be a reduction in thought processes and physical movements. With psychomotor reduction, the slowdown includes not only the speech but also the affect of the person.
7. Pronounced sleep abnormalities
Sleep disorders they are common when depression is involved. However, when someone experiences depressive psychosis, they may have night terrors, hallucinations that disturb their sleep, and experience lucid dreams. This person may also sleep too much or too little, which is often the case in depressive disorders.
8. Suicidal ideation
Suicidal tendencies are not unheard of when it comes to depression. Now when you add psychosis to the mix, things can get pretty scary. Hallucinations or delusions can only intensify feelings of hurting yourself.
Especially if a person is hearing auditory hallucinations where voices tell them to do things, it is seldom a time when the voices heard in psychosis are positive. According to how things work, the voices are a product of the person’s imagination, so they acquire the depressive state they feel at that moment.
It is easy to understand why a person experiencing hallucinations, delusions, sleep disturbances, and other symptoms can be paranoid. In the mental health field, this term is often called paranoid schizophrenia; however, paranoia can occur on its own. The definition of paranoid is believing that someone wants to hurt you, which is natural to see why someone in a depressive state of psychosis might feel that way.
10. Disorganized thoughts
Formal thought disorder or disorganized thoughts are other features of psychosis. During this state, a person may feel their ideas get out of control.
The chaos in the brain becomes overwhelming and can drive you crazy. An outsider can usually tell when this happens. That’s because one can watch them as they mix up or confuse their speech or change the subject mid-sentence.
Understanding Depression Psychosis
Some people are more likely to have psychotic symptoms than others, and Family history may play a role in development, according to Academy. Those who experience psychotic symptoms are more likely to have episodes in the future. With each depressive episode comes the risk of developing these problems.
For the person with schizoaffective disorder, the prognosis is poor. However, the person with depressive psychosis can achieve remission, depending on the National Institute of Health. Consequently, there is a greater chance that someone with psychotic characteristics is more prone to suicide than depression alone, and sleep abnormalities can become more pronounced.
The most common age range for psychotic depression is 20 to 40 years until the initial episode. When it comes to a major depressive disorder, psychotic tendencies are sporadic. A person can have hallucinations for a week and then it will disappear as quickly as it appeared.
Later, they may begin to experience sleep abnormalities. The key is that the symptoms of psychosis do not always appear at the same time. Often times, a person gradually moves into this state as they continue to deteriorate mentally from depression.
Diagnosis and treatment of psychotic depression
It is not always easy to identify psychotic symptoms in depression, since doctors spend so little time with them. The only exception is when they are admitted as emergency patients due to suicidal ideas, hallucinations, or delusions.
Furthermore, it can present as a schizoaffective disorder if the depressive elements are not clearly identified. The fact that there are many overlapping symptoms makes it difficult to distinguish the various facets of this mental health crisis.
Even more challenging is treating the person experiencing these symptoms. Traditional treatment methods don’t always work for people who are paranoid or delusional because they fear someone is trying to harm them. One such method that has been explored is electroconvulsive therapy.
Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is becoming a preferred treatment method for those with severe depression. Using electrodes strategically placed in the brain, small amounts of electrical currents are pulsed through the affected area. Side effects can be mild memory loss, but the process has become safer than in previous years.
While ECT tends to be a bit controversial, other natural herbal remedies can help.
- California poppy
- Grass of San Juan
- Folic acid
- B12 vitamin
- Vitamin E
The trial and error process can be extended to see which herbs or group of herbs produce remission. However, according to Psych Central, studies around these are ongoing and show promising results.
Coping with major depressive disorder can be an ongoing battle that lasts for much of your life. A person prone to depressive episodes often discovers that they have genetic and environmental links. Added to this is the aspect that a person suffering from deep depression can also experience psychotic episodes.
Both depression and psychosis can be episodic. Each episode will be unique in duration and intensity, as will the psychotic tendencies. A person can have a crippling depression that leaves them unable to get out of bed, and the psychosis can be some auditory hallucinations.
However, the next battle may be debilitating psychosis It requires intensive treatment and a depression that is a bit bothersome. There is no rhyme or reason for these episodes, and it is something that many must endure for life.
The good news is that psychosis can be effectively controlled with natural remedies. Many herbs and mixtures can stop hallucinations and delusions; the key is to find the one that best suits your needs.