Psychotic depression is defined as a major depressive episode that is accompanied by psychotic symptoms. You have psychotic depression if you experience depressive symptoms while having hallucinations or delusions. In their book, Depression, Aaron T. Beck and Brad A. Alford define someone who experiences a psychotic depressive reaction as "patients who were severely depressed and who gave evidence of gross misinterpretation of realty" (2009, p. 85). One out of four people who is hospitalized for depression has psychotic depression. For a person to be considered having psychotic depression, the typical symptoms of depression have to be present. They may show a greater degree of severity or intensity when comes to experiencing signs and symptoms of depression. (Beck & Alford, 2009, p. 88-89). A person who has psychotic depression may let go of their appearance. They will stop bathing, combing their hair, etc. They will also avoid socializing with others.
What are Psychotic Depression Symptoms?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the most common psychotic symptoms are hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations happen when you believe you have heard or saw something that is not there. Delusions are when you have an irrational fear of something. Irrational thoughts are also considered delusions (2013). Patients may deny their own thoughts and believe that they are thoughts of someone else. In other words, their delusions make them deny ownership of their thoughts. This is known as thought insertion. You may also believe that other people can hear your thoughts. This is called thought broadcasting. These symptoms are common with people who are suffering from schizophrenia. What sets schizophrenia apart from psychotic depression is you. People with psychotic depression know that the hallucinations and delusions are not real. People with schizophrenia have a hard time distinguishing reality from their hallucinations and delusions. You may experience these psychotic symptoms and feel shame or embarrassment. Do not try to hide them. Seek help as soon as you realize what is going on.
Psychotic Depression Symptoms
Here are the common symptoms associated with psychotic depression.
Most delusions are related to feelings of being unworthy, condemned and criticized. Some delusions are based on the patient believing he or she has been physically altered (Beck, 2009, p. 87). However, all delusions have something related to being depressed. That is one of the main characteristics of the delusions that make them different from the delusions experienced by a person with schizophrenia.