About twenty five percent of individuals admitted to hospitals for depression suffer from some form of psychotic depression. These individuals not only suffer from common symptoms but also from hallucinations or delusions. The illness has many similarities to clinical depression, but some important differences as well.
Other mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, can also include symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia. However, individuals with this illness generally know that the thoughts or hallucinations are not real. At the same time, diagnosis becomes difficult because many people hide these symptoms, afraid to admit that they have these more socially unacceptable symptoms.
Along with more common depressive symptoms, these individuals may experience anxiety, hypochondria, insomnia, immobility, and cognitive impairment. Scientists don't know exactly how it develops, but some believe that it may have to do with high levels of cortisol in the blood. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands, which is released throughout the day and at times of stress.
The treatments also differ in some ways. Generally, a longer hospital stay is required and a closer follow up may be required for many patients. Mental health professionals have found that tricyclic antidepressants and anti psychotic medications seem to help many patients when they are used in combination. Lithium and electro convulsive therapy are also used to treat the illness, although they are usually second line treatments. Researchers have also been investigating the use of RU-486 (now used as "emergency contraception") as it appears to dramatically reduce the symptoms.
With treatment, most individuals will experience recovery within a year. Like other forms of the illness, psychotic depression can reoccur, although the symptoms are more likely to happen again than the hallucinations and delusions. However, diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing re occurrences and treating the symptoms that do come back. As the risk of suicide and other depressive illnesses is greater, it is imperative that individuals are diagnosed and treated properly.
Psychotic depression shares many symptoms with the clinical form of the illness, but is distinguished by the presence of hallucinations and/or delusions. Treatment differs from other types, as the psychotic symptoms must also be treated.