Psychotic Depression - Discussion

Research studies throw up astonishing statistics on psychotic depression - they indicate that approximately 25% of patients who are hospitalized for treatment of depression suffer from this condition.

This type of depressive disorder is not only marked by the usual signs and symptoms of depression, but is also accompanied by hallucinations and delusions. Hallucination is when the individual sees or hears things that are really not there, and delusions are irrational fears and thoughts. Generally, persons who are psychotically depressed also suffer from paranoia when the disease progresses. All in all, these persons need professional help.

These symptoms appear even in conditions of schizophrenia as well; however, the difference being that persons suffering from psychotic depression are aware that they are not in touch with reality. Once the symptoms of this form of depression manifest in a person, it is likely that he or she will develop the risk of recurrent episodes of the same, bipolar disorder, as well as thoughts of suicide.

The causes for this mental disorder are not quite known, but research indicates that this disease is marked by an increase in cortisol levels in the blood. This is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands. The body releases excess cortisol to combat stress. The risk factors for this illness are not known, though those with a family history of this type of depression are in the high risk category.

The typical symptoms of psychotic depression generally include anxiety, insomnia, constipation, physical inactivity, agitation, hypochondria, etc.

Treatment of Psychotically Depressed Persons

Unlike treatment protocols for other types of depression, treatment for this disorder involves extended hospitalization and supervision by medical staff. Also, the follow up process by a certified mental health professional is longer.

The medications which are prescribed along with the other treatment modalities generally include a combination of tricyclic antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs. For those suffering from bipolar disorder as well, lithium is also included on the prescribed medication list.

Another line of treatment and help for this disorder is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is also said to be effective.

Overall, the prognosis for this disease indicates that recovery is usually possible within a year with timely treatment and continuous follow up. The depressive symptoms, rather than the psychotic symptoms, are more likely to recur post treatment.

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