The seriousness of psychotic depression can be seen from the fact that around 20% people experience a depressive illness at some point or the other in their lives, and about 6% experience a more severe form of the illness. Depression and anxiety can impact individuals of any age, and it is not unusual for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly half of those diagnosed with psychotic depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The good news is that both these disorders are treatable, separately and together.
Causes and Symptoms
The common causes of psychotic depression include heredity factors, side effects of certain drugs, and abnormal thyroid function. Besides these, human immunodeficiency virus is also considered as a risk factor for the same.
A person suffering from psychotic depression shows signs of restlessness, agitation, disorganized speech, constipation, and insomnia. He/she might exhibit symptoms, like extreme anxiety, mental stress, and inability to respond to stressful situations. One of the major symptoms of psychotic depression is hallucinations, which means seeing or hearing things that aren't really there.
Hallucinations are also common amongst patients of schizophrenia and often cause confusion between the two different disorders. But unlike the patients of schizophrenia, the person suffering from psychotic depression, generally knows and understands that he/she is hallucinating. Sometimes, the person may come up with strange and illogical ideas and might say that someone is trying to harm him/her or that others can hear his/her thoughts.
Limited anxiety can be considered as a positive factor as long as it is a normal reaction to stress. But when anxiety becomes excessive, it can be potentially dangerous and may lead to suicide or violent behavior towards others. Although the exact causes of psychotic anxiety are not known, the genetic history of a patient, his/her brain chemistry, and environmental factors can be some of the potential anxiety symptoms. Traumas like death of a loved one, divorce, or tragedy with a close friend may lead to psychotic anxiety. Other generally exhibited symptoms are excessive sweating, nausea, trembling, tiredness, irritability, and an unrealistic view of problems.
Treatment for Psychotic Depression and Anxiety
For the treatment of psychotic depression, two schemes are used. First one is the effective use of medication, which includes antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs combined together. This combination should be monitored carefully by the physician in order to avoid any side effects. However, in order to maintain a balance between risks and benefits, antidepressant monotherapy should be the preferred option, in the initial stage, for patients undergoing the treatment.
The second way is the use of electroconvulsive therapy which is exclusively administered in hospitals. This requires the patients to remain hospitalized, and they are given a general anesthesia twice or thrice a week. This type of treatment is effective for patients who have a marked psychomotor retardation.
Before the treatment for psychotic anxiety starts, other coexisting factors, if any, should be brought under control. These factors may include alcoholism, depression, etc., which may have a strong effect on the person undergoing the treatment. In the initial stages, a person is diagnosed to find out whether the symptoms are because of anxiety or some other physical factor.
After that, medication and psychotherapy are provided based on the problems he/she is facing. Medication is administered to keep the anxiety disorder under control while the anxiety treatment is being given. Prescribed by the physicians, usually psychiatrists, the principal medication includes antidepressants, drugs to curb anxiety, and beta-blockers to control some of the physical symptoms.
Psychotherapy is a way to understand the psyche behind the patient's behavior with the help of talking sessions with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor. This helps in discovering what caused the anxiety disorder, how the symptoms can be dealt with, and how can the self-confidence be regained. Suppose a person is phobic of dirt germs, he/she is made to begrime his/her hands and wait for sometime before washing them. It helps in abetting the patient to get rid of his/her phobia. The patient can also be given sessions on stress relief.
The treatments should always be followed under the supervision of a physician. Neglecting the symptoms can sometimes be fatal if the problem persists for a long time. Of course, one should always remember that a healthy body is an outcome of a stress-free mind.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.