Psychotic depression and schizophrenia can be easily confused with each other, but they are not the same. By definition, psychotic depression is a major depressive disorder that presents with hallucinations and delusions, while schizophrenia is a mental illness whereby the individual has difficulty thinking logically, identifying between what’s real and what’s imagined, and to express feelings appropriately. It’s possible for psychotic depression to turn into schizophrenia just as it is possible for schizophrenia to cause psychotic depression.
Psychotic Depression vs Schizophrenia: Differentiating the Symptoms
Individuals with psychotic depression are usually agitated and anxious with some degree of intellectual impairment and physical immobility. They have sleeping problems, as well, excessive preoccupation with their health (hypochondriasis), hallucinations and delusions.
Schizophrenics, on the other hand, are hostile and suspicious. When you look at them you will find their gaze devoid of any expression. Social withdrawal is very likely, and along with it the reduced need or lack of desire to take care of one’s self. Personal hygiene suffers, and so do personal and social relationships. Individuals diagnosed with this mental disorder are irrational, forgetful, and defensive to criticisms. Insomnia and depression are problems often met by schizophrenics.
Later Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
As schizophrenia progress, delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior become more apparent.
It’s typical of schizophrenics to be delusional. Most of them experience one or several of the following types of delusion:
· Delusions of persecution. Schizophrenics with delusions of persecution believe that someone is out there to persecute him/her.
· Delusions of grandeur. This is a strange believe that one is a VIP or who possesses super powers.
· Delusions of control. Schizophrenics believe that how they think or what they do are influenced by an outside force.
Also common to schizophrenics are hallucinations. Hallucinations are signs and sounds that are believed to be real but which actually exist nowhere else but in the mind of the patient.
Disorganized Speech and Behavior
Schizophrenics have difficulty focusing. They can shift from topic to topic, which when you put them all together, no longer makes any sense. If you ask them questions, they will answer, but inappropriately. They keep repeating words and phrases over and over again. Sometimes they create their own words that nobody else understands.
Psychotic Depression and Schizophrenia: Understanding the Causes
There are a number of factors that can lead to psychotic depression, among them:
· Neurotransmitter problems
· Hormonal imbalances
· Inability to cope with stresses and tragedies.
· Personality problems.
With schizophrenia, the following factors are said to trigger its occurrence:
· Genetics. If someone in your immediate family has the disorder, there’s a 10% chance that you will have it, too. If both your parents have been diagnosed with the disorder, there’s a 40% chance of you developing it as well.
· Neurotransmitter problems of imbalances in the brain chemicals.
· Structural abnormalities in the brain.
· Complications experienced during pregnancy or birth.
· Substance abuse. Marijuana consumption can cause schizophrenia.
Treatment Options For Psychotic Depression and Schizophrenia
Psychotic Depression is managed with a combination of antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs (using only antidepressants is found to be not very effective in many patients), and electroconvulsive therapy for patients found to have significant retardation of the psychomotor. The use of drugs needs to be strictly monitored, though, while electroconvulsive therapy has to be done in a hospital facility by a trained specialist.
To treat schizophrenia, antipsychotic drugs will be prescribed, but with extreme caution considering the many side effects they come with. The patient will also be advised to undergo psychosocial treatments, learn disease management skills and coping skills to deal with everyday stresses. If substance abuse is what triggered the disorder, integrating treatment for substance abuse will be employed.