Here's a quick quiz for you: Faulty neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, are the causes of depression -- true or false? If you answered "true," you've probably had some experience with antidepressants -- or, perhaps, you've watched one too many pharmaceutical commercials.
While most modern antidepressants are designed to interact with these brain chemicals -- and many have done so with successful results -- scientists still aren't sure of the exact causes of clinical depression. So, it should be no surprise that the roots of psychotic depression are also unknown. There are, however, certain risk factors that make a person more susceptible to developing the disorder. Family history of psychotic depression can increase a person's odds of developing it. According to the Mayo Clinic, risk factors for depression, in general, include:
- Personal or family history of depression and/or substance abuse
- Female gender
- Low socio-economic status
- Traumatic childhood
- Stressful life events
- Negative outlook and behaviors
- Life-threatening chronic illness
If a person is experiencing psychosis only, there's a chance that another psychological disorder is behind his or her delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance abuse are also known causes of psychosis.
Fortunately, there are many effective treatments available for psychosis as well as depression. We'll explore those therapies in the next section.