Signs & Symptoms Of Psychotic Depression

Psychotic Depression warning signs

Psychotic depression is characterized as a severe case of major depression coupled with some form of psychosis such as delusions, hallucinations, both or some other type of a break from reality. It is a very serious condition and those experiencing this type of depression should seek professional help immediately. Those suffering from psychotic depression make up an estimated 25% of all patients admitted to a hospital for mental illnesses.

Since this disorder is made up of two parts, the depression aspect and the psychosis aspect, it is important to know the symptoms for each and how they manifest themselves as well as the treatment options for those suffering from psychotic depression.

Symptoms of Psychotic Depression

Those with this disorder may experience any of the normal symptoms of depression, but most notable may be:

  • Hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • Agitation, short temper, quick to get angry
  • Withdrawal
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Mental impairment, not being able to think clearly or concentrate
  • Neglect of appearance, does not bathe regularly or change clothes
  • Constipation

This disorder is also marked by the appearance of psychosis in the patient. Delusions (a false sense of one’s self or of what is going on) and hallucinations (seeing things or hearing things that are just not there) are the two major manifestations of the psychosis aspect of the disorder.

A patient experiencing delusions with psychotic depression may be unusually distrusting of others believing that others can hear their thoughts. They may also think that they are dying from a terminal disease such as cancer. They can believe that they are guilty of a serious crime that they never committed. They can also have a false sense of themselves believing that they are someone famous or overly important.

If they experience hallucinations then they may hear voices that insult them making them feel worthless and belittling them or telling them to harm themselves or others. They may see the devil or other incarnations of evil.

Unlike other mental illnesses that include psychosis such as schizophrenia, where the patient truly believes that their delusions or hallucinations or in fact real, someone suffering from psychotic depression knows that what they are seeing or hearing or believing about themselves is not real or based in reality. This produces a sense of shame in the patient and makes it harder to diagnose them since the shame they feel keeps them from talking about it or admitting their psychosis to health care providers. This sense of shame and not being able to control their thoughts may also lead to or make worse their depression.

Treatment Options

Psychotic depression ideally should be treated in a hospital setting where proper monitoring of the patient can take place. The risk for hurting themselves or others is higher than normal for those suffering from this form of depression so being under medical supervision until being stabilized is preferred.

Different medications can be used to treat psychotic depression. Usually a combination of depression medications along with anti-psychotic medications are used to stabilize the patient. Normally, antidepressants will have to be taken for a longer period than the anti-psychotic drugs. Treatment with medications can be effective and, if successful, results can be seen within one year. Follow up and maintenance treatment is highly recommended for patients as well.

For severe cases, or for cases in which medication did not produce adequate results for the patient, electroconvulsive therapy might be recommended. ECT has a very long and successful track record in helping those suffering from a vast array of mental health illnesses.

What Causes Psychotic Depression?

The exact cause of psychotic depression in not currently known. Some research points to a possible link between high levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a hormone the body produces during high levels of stress or when presented with trying circumstances. Also a family history of mental illness may increase a person’s chances of developing a mental disorder.

Psychotic depression is a serious matter. Severe major depression along with psychosis often leaves one suffering from this disorder unable to take care of themselves. It also carries a high risk of someone afflicted with this form of depression to hurt themselves or others. Anyone at risk of or thought to be suffering from psychotic depression should seek immediate help. It is recommended to treat patients of this disorder in a hospital setting so they can be properly monitored while being stabilized. Treatment can be highly effective, so it is important to keep in mind that there is always hope for those going through psychotic depression.

What Role Does Nutrition Play In Depression?


For non-clinical, mild forms of depression diet can often play an overlooked role in the way that you feel. A brain that is suffering through various vitamin deficiencies may not function as well and lead to problems down the line. Diet can also be addressed in clinical diagnoses, but as an ancillary benefit to support whatever coarse of primary treatment is prescribed. Correcting and improving your diet can help rectify your bodys nutritional needs and help restore balance in the body. Vitamin deficiency and mental health are often linked, so it is an important area to investigate. Here are 10 nutrients that are most commonly associated with depression and other mental disorders.

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiencies is not only linked to depression, but also to dementia and autism. As according to the National Institutes of Health, the adult body needs about 600 IUs of vitamin D per day, the easiest time for you to become vitamin D deficient is during the winter and fall months when there is minimal sunlight. However for maximum mental health, you will need somewhere between 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D.

So if you work for long hours in the offices, there is a chance of your suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Take some time to go out into the sun and take a walk during lunch break. While you need to get into the sunshine, dont overdo it as if you are sensitive to the sun, too much of sun is also not good for you!

2. Amino acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and have an important role in maintaining the proper functioning of your brain. If your diet does not contain sufficient amino acids, you will slowly start feeling unfocused, sluggish and depressed with life. The best thing you should do to is increase your consumption of seeds, beans, red meats and nuts to get sufficient amino acids in your body.

3. Iodine

Iodine is necessary and important for the optimal functioning of your thyroid gland. Though the thyroid gland is a small gland, its affects practically all body systems like your body temperature, metabolism, immune system, energy level, brain functioning and much more. So if your iodine consumption is on the lower side, your thyroid does not function as well as it should and this leads to various complications including feelings of depression.

4. B Vitamins

It was proven through studies that older women suffering from severe depression have a tendency of suffering from a deficiency of B complex vitamins. So the study proves that B complex vitamins are very much important and necessary for your mental health than you envisioned.

This is why its suggested that your diet includes 2.4mcg of B12 and 1.5-1.7 mg of B6 which you can get through foods like milk, fish, meat, poultry, eggs and seafood like crab, mussels and clams.

5. Folate

If you have a low level of folate, it seriously reduces the efficiency of antidepressants. In fact, this is why some psychiatrists prescribe folate to treat depression. Adults require a minimum of 400mcg folate everyday which you can get by eating lots of dark, green leafy vegetables, legumes, beans and citrus fruits and juices.

6. Magnesium

Many people today unknowingly suffer from a deficiency of magnesium because they consume too much of sugar, caffeine, salt and alcohol, and have too much of stress. All of this contributes to the bodys depletion of magnesium stores.

This is why magnesium is an efficient mineral to consume to fight the harmful effects of constant stress. While men need about 400 to 420 mg of magnesium every day, women require between 310 and 320 mg.

7. Iron

On an average, about 20% of women suffer from iron deficiency which leads to symptoms similar to depression like an inability to focus, fatigue and irritability. So make sure you consume about 8 to 18 mg of iron every day.

8. Selenium

Selenium is an important mineral which is required for thyroid function. It is also an important antioxidant which helps prevent the oxidation of the polyunsaturated acids found on the cell membrane. Generally, an adult body requires at least 55 mcg of selenium to remain physically and mentally healthy.

9. Omega-3

You always thought, and heard that omega-3 fatty acids was important and required for a healthy heart. However did you also know that omega-3 also has a serious impact on your mental health? In fact, your body doesnt get sufficient omega-3s through your diet even if you took a daily fish oil supplement.

Moreover, your body does not manufacture or process omega-3 fatty acids on its own. You thus need to consume foods containing omega-3 fatty acids like tuna, salmon, halibut or walnuts and flaxseeds, and also take some supplements to ensure your body gets the required nutrients.

10. Zinc

Zinc too is a mineral needed for the optimal functioning of all your body systems. The mineral not only helps with digestion, it also helps your body produce DNA and helps with the repair of proteins. Moreover, zinc helps boost your bodys immunity and controls any inflammation in the body.

How To Increase Your Nutrient Intake

So in a nutshell, if your diet was always full of junk food, processed foods, sodas and sugar, or if you skip meals and notice you suffer from depression and mood disorders, its time you start a food diary about all the food you eat every day. Starting on a healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is a prudent way to address vitamin deficiencies, while eating fresh fish is a great way to get more Omega-3 fatty acids.

Your nutrient intake can also benefit with the help of a juicer as freshly prepared juice from raw produce is more easily digestible and absorbed by the body. But juicing does take some commitment at first until it becomes habit. The best juicer on the market will not do you any good unless you use it on a regular basis. One way to achieve this is to experiment with different juicing recipes and find a few that you really find tasty. This will help prevent boredom with the routine and make you excited to try something new every day.

It still will take some time for the body to adjust, but it eventually can have a huge impact on the your overall well being. Of course, you should always speak with a physician before making any major changes for their approval.

Forms Of Psychotherapy That Can Help You Recover

Sufferers of depression may at some point of their treatment process be recommended to undergo some form of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, consists of a patient working with a trained psychotherapist to wade through their emotional or behavioral obstacles using various techniques and methods. Depending on the severity of the depression, therapy can last from a couple of months to a year or more. Psychotherapy may be used in conjunction with other treatment options, such as antidepressants, or it may be used alone. It can help the patient better understand their illness, give the patient awareness of what behaviors trigger or worsen their depression, and teach the patient coping skills to work through issues on a daily basis. Psychotherapy can be useful in the treatment of various mental disorders besides depression, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and eating disorders to name a few.


There are many different methods of psychotherapy. Some of the various approaches of psychotherapy used to treat depression include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Other forms of alternative psychotherapy

There is no one perfect method for everyone. Depending on the psychologist’s diagnosis and treatment plan, they may use just one of the above methods or they may use various aspects of different methods depending on the patient’s needs.

No matter what kind of psychotherapy is used, the success of the treatment process is greatly accelerated and more effective if the patient is an active and willing participant. Someone suffering from depression who has made the choice on their own that they want to get better often sees the best and quickest results from psychotherapy.

The Different Methods of Psychotherapy

A quick synopsis of some of the different types of psychotherapy methods used to improve mental health.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – This is a general term for a type of psychotherapy that is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy. There are several different approaches to cognitive behavioral therapy that may have some aspects in common. CBT focuses on how a person thinks and the effects that their thoughts have on their behavior and mood. Someone who seemingly has everything going for them, yet they feel completely worthless, for example, would be a candidate for this type of therapy.

The treatment is goal-oriented and is a collaboration between the patient and their therapist. The duration of CBT is limited, lasting around 3 to 4 months or around 16 sessions. It aims to identity and alter negative thought patterns that adversely impact a patient’s behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used for many different types of mental illnesses including depression.

Interpersonal Therapy – This is usually a quick form of therapy that usually lasts for 2 to 4 months. It focuses on the relationships and interactions with friends, family and other key people in the life of the patient. It can be beneficial for depression associated with grief, relationship strife, social withdrawal and stressful life events such as a new job or relocating to a new city.

The goal of interpersonal therapy is to help the patient better communicate and relate to the people in their lives. IPT makes a person more aware of how they interact with people, identify problematic emotions and their triggers, and teaches them new ways to express themselves with others that are more constructive.

IPT can help the patient dissolve potential disputes and strengthen relationships that have been a source of some of their depression signs and moods.

Family Therapy – This involves the patient’s family dynamic and the role it may play in their depressive disorder. Including family members in the therapy process may help relationships within the family, work out conflict, and help the family better understand the patient’s illness so they can encourage and facilitate in their recovery and spot instances of potential relapses.

Psychodynamic TherapyPsychodynamic therapy involves understanding unresolved conflicts from the patient’s past and how they influence their current thoughts, feelings and behavior. The patient may not be aware of the profound influence their past has on their present situation as they may have blocked out the past experiences from the conscious mind and moved it to their unconscious mind. This type of psychotherapy is commonly associated with the works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Psychodynamic therapy aims to help the patient gain better insight and to resolve or cope with their past conflicts.

Group Therapy ? This type of therapy usually involves a small group of people with related issues led by a trained therapist to help themselves and one another work through their problems. This type of therapy can have tremendous benefits to those who are usually withdrawn and feel like they are the only ones suffering through a certain situation. Seeing and working with others going through exactly the same or similar issues can greatly aid in the recovery process. Listening to others and what they are going through can help the patient gain perspective as well as improve social skills. This type of therapy can be done on its own or in conjunction with one on one sessions with a therapist.

These are just a few of the different methods of psychotherapy that may be used to help a person suffering from depression get relief. Therapy can help a person gain perspective on how their thoughts, feelings and beliefs can negatively affect their behaviors. They can teach new skills, promote self-improvement and offer support that can help patients better cope with the triggers that can lead to their depression symptoms. Whether with the use of antidepressants or used on its own, psychotherapy can be extremely beneficial to those currently suffering with depression as well as many other types of mental illnesses and disorders.