Psychotic depression: what it is and how to deal with it

A psychotic depression can be a difficult and distressing experience for both the person going through it and those close to them. It is characterized by severe disconnection from reality, hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Also called psychosis or psychotic episode, this can be a sign of an underlying mental problem or arise due to a stressful or traumatic event. It therefore requires careful handling and support.

But before knowing how to deal with psychotic depressions, you need to know the common causes to better manage the situation.

Causes of psychotic depression

Dr Kedar Tilwe, consultant psychiatrist at Fortis Hospital in Mulund and Hiranandani Hospital in Vashi, Maharashtra, explains to Health Shots: “Psychosis is a condition in which an individual loses touch with reality. When a person experiences psychotic symptoms, they cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality. It is associated with symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, impaired judgment and confusion and can also cause aggressive behavior. This aggressive behavior can sometimes be difficult to control.

Pay attention to your symptoms. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

It can often be triggered by a variety of factors, including genetics, environment, and brain chemistry. Some common triggers include:

1. Genetic factors: A family history of mental health disorders, especially schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, may increase the risk of psychotic depression. Genetic factors play an important role in determining susceptibility to such conditions.

2. Stress and trauma: High levels of stress, traumatic events, or prolonged exposure to difficult life situations can contribute to the development of psychotic depression. Trauma can disrupt normal brain function and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.

3. Substance Abuse“Substance abuse caused by alcohol and drugs may increase the risk of psychotic depression, especially in people with existing mental health conditions. This can trigger or worsen symptoms and impair the ability to think rationally,” says Dr. Tilwe.

4. Sleep deprivation: Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive impairment and emotional instability, which could contribute to the onset of psychotic depression. Sleep is essential for maintaining mental health, and disruptions can have serious consequences.

sleep deprivation
Sleep problems can also indicate sleep apnea. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

5. Social Isolation: Prolonged social isolation or a lack of support networks can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and contribute to the development of mental health problems, including psychotic depressions.

How do you deal with psychotic depression?

Managing any psychotic crisis or psychosis may require professional help, support from loved ones, and a positive attitude toward recovery. Here are 7 ways to deal with psychotic depression:

1. Seek professional help

If you think you or someone you know is suffering from psychotic depression, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional. Psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors can provide an accurate diagnosis and develop a tailored treatment plan.

2. Medicines

Dr. Tilwe says, “In many cases, medication can help manage the symptoms of psychotic depression. Antipsychotic drugs can help relieve hallucinations, delusions, and other distressing symptoms. However, medications should always be prescribed by a medical professional.

3. Therapy

Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals learn coping mechanisms, manage stress, and understand their thoughts and emotions. Therapy can also help individuals regain a sense of control over their lives.

seek help for depression
Do not hesitate to seek professional help. Image provided by: Shutterstock

4. Enabling environment

Creating a supportive, non-judgmental environment is crucial for people in psychotic crisis. Friends and family members can play an important role in providing emotional support and understanding.

5. Healthy lifestyle

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can have a positive impact on mental health. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can contribute to overall well-being and help manage symptoms.

6. Avoid drug addiction

“If substance abuse is a contributing factor, seeking help to overcome addiction is essential. Substance abuse can exacerbate symptoms and hinder recovery,” says Dr. Tilwe.

7. Crisis Intervention

Find crisis response resources in your area. Helplines, crisis centers and emergency services can provide immediate assistance in times of distress.

So if you think you might be dealing with a psychotic depression, follow these tips and get professional help for a speedy recovery.

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