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Depression Psychosis is Scary! See Why…

Depression psychosis is scary but can be effectively treated. Learn about psychotic depression- symptoms, causes, treatments on HealthyPlace.

Depression psychosis is a condition that a person experiences when he or she is severely depressed and comes with a higher risk of suicide.

When a person experiences depression with psychosis, he or she experiences depression's psychotic symptoms. These psychotic symptoms can be dangerous to the health and wellbeing of the affected person and sometimes the people around him or her.

Experiencing depression psychosis is scary for the affected person, along with friends and family. It causes many alarming symptoms and behaviors that are unexpected, erratic, and unpredictable.

What is Depression Psychosis?

Depression psychosis is a form of major depression. Whether a person is being treated or not being treated for depression, if the condition of depression is severe, there is a high risk of experiencing depression psychosis. During these psychotic episodes, the person falls out of touch with reality. This can manifest in different ways, and the symptoms of depression psychosis are very scary to experience.

Symptoms of Depression Psychosis

Depression psychosis causes a person to experience symptoms of a psychotic episode, like:

  • Auditory hallucinations (hearing voices)
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Grandiose thoughts and ideas
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Delusions of failure, worthlessness, being in extreme danger, or extreme self-shame and guilt
  • Impulsive and dangerous behaviors that are out of character for the affected person
  • Explosive rage or anger without reason
  • Poor hygiene and failure to take care of self

These symptoms can cause an affected person to act out violently toward themselves or others. This is often due to a state of deep confusion and incoherency. Many people who experience a psychotic episode due to depression will end up in the emergency room and be admitted to a psychiatric hospital until stabilized.

Prevalence of Depression with Psychosis

Currently, an estimated 15% of people who suffer from major depressive disorder also suffer from depression with psychotic features. Despite the high prevalence of psychotic features in cases of depression, depression psychosis is often misdiagnosed as schizophrenia.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can be very similar to the symptoms of depression psychosis. A distinguishing feature is that those with psychotic depression usually have hallucinations and delusions that center around their depression, such as feeling like a failure or worthlessness. In schizophrenia, the psychotic symptoms are often bizarre and irrational (“I’m being tracked by the CIA from space.”) and usually have nothing to do with the person’s mood state.

Since the psychotic symptoms may confuse doctors, the psychotic episode in depression can lead to a misdiagnosis. With this misdiagnosis comes incorrect treatment, keeping the person from feeling better from their existing condition of depression.

Depression Psychosis Treatment and Recovery

It is scary to experience depression with symptoms of psychosis, but with proper treatment and monitoring, even people with the most severe cases can be placed on a path toward feeling better. Treatment for depression psychosis may take several months, and typically requires both intensive therapy, medications (usually a combination of antipsychotics and antidepressants) and psychiatric hospitalization and care. If these aren’t effective enough, sometimes electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) will be used.

While it will take time to recover, commitment to feeling better and education about proper coping skills for the existing condition of depression can prevent future psychotic episodes.

Prevention of Depression with Psychosis

Having even one psychotic episode in depression increases the risk that future episodes may occur. The best way to combat depression psychosis is to get the proper depression treatment, stay on it, and learn how to properly manage your depression. Preventing depression from becoming severe minimizes the chances of experiencing a psychotic episode. Depression psychosis is scary, but it is not common in mild to moderate cases of depression.

APA Reference
Guarino, G. (2018, June 28). Depression Psychosis is Scary! See Why…, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/symptoms/depression-psychosis-is-scary-see-why

Last Updated: May 16, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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