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Understanding Psychotic Depression

Symptoms of Psychotic Depression

Imagine you wake up one morning believing you're President of the United States. Perhaps the next day you think you're an undercover spy. No, these aren't the playtime imaginings of a young child; they're the delusions of a person who has experienced a break from reality.

The primary symptoms that differentiate psychotic depression from typical depression are hallucinations and delusions. A delusion is believing something that, in reality, isn't true -- like being the President or a spy. Hallucinations, on the other hand, are imaginary voices or visions. In the film, "A Beautiful Mind," (this would be your spoiler alert), the roommate, Charles, was one of main character John Nash's hallucinations.

Unlike John Nash, who was schizophrenic, a person with psychotic depression likely realizes what he or she is experiencing isn't real. While there's value in this awareness, it can also lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment. And when a person hides his or her symptoms of psychotic depression, it can increase his or her likelihood of not getting a proper diagnosis or treatment.

Of course, hallucinations and delusions aren't the only symptoms of psychotic depression -- anxiety, hypochondria, intellectual impairment, agitation, insomnia and physical immobility can be signs as well. These will be accompanied by symptoms of depression, which the Mayo Clinic reports, can include:

  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of joy or pleasure
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Chronic pain with no obvious cause
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Frequent crying
  • Thoughts of death

Keep reading to find out more about the causes of psychotic depression.