03-28 Illnesses common with depression – 3: Schizophrenia

Posted in Depression, Mental Health Disorder, Mental Illness

Illnesses common with depression - 3: Schizophrenia

Compared to the general population, people with the problem of schizophrenia are comparatively more likely to be afflicted by depression. A 2012 article published in Advances in Psychiatric Treatment highlighted that about 25 percent of people with the problem of schizophrenia also suffer from major depression. Usually, depression occurs among the older people with the mental disorder schizophrenia.

It is important to know the dangerous implications of depression among the schizophrenics as suffering from the two disorders at the same time can be extremely debilitating for an individual. Some even argue that depression is, in fact, comparatively more important factor for suicide among patients with the problem of schizophrenia than hallucinations or delusions, which are also the characteristic features of the disease.

While anxiety and bipolar disorder, which co-occur commonly with depression, were discussed in the first two articles of the series, “Illnesses common with depression,” the current article discusses in detail about schizophrenia.

Distinguishing depression from schizophrenia

Since there is an overlapping of symptoms in the two disorders, it is often difficult to diagnose depression alongside schizophrenia. Moreover, it is often difficult to distinguish the “negative” symptoms of schizophrenia and clinical depression. Some of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia include social withdrawal, low motivation and energy levels, difficulties or inability to feel pleasure, lack of interest in most things, impaired thought processes, etc., which are also commonly witnessed during depression. Due to the increased overlapping of the symptoms, medical practitioners often feel confused and fail to distinguish the conditions.

Moreover, the antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia have some side effects like depressive symptoms, such as limited spontaneity in speech and movements, restlessness and negative mood.  As depression motivate people to misuse addictive substances, such as alcohol, drugs, etc., over half of the people with schizophrenia also suffer from the comorbid drug or alcohol abuse problem,

As the thinking, perceptual experiences and communication skills get impaired during schizophrenia, a treatment provider may have difficulty in identifying depression and assessing the risk for suicide. Even in the case schizophrenia, sadness is sometimes not considered a good indicator of depression.

Some other indicators of depression in schizophrenia include excessive guilt, extreme hopelessness and suicidal intentions due to nonpsychosis reasons, such as voice guiding the person to death etc.

Cognitive behavior therapy effective in treating co-occurring mental disorders

With about a quarter of people with schizophrenia meeting the criteria for a depressive disorder at some or the other time, schizoaffective disorder, a combination of two conditions like schizophrenia and mood disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, etc., is quite prevalent. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it is a rare condition that affects 0.3 percent of the American population, which is approximately one in every 333 people. Despite being rare, it is very intense in terms of psychological and mental effects.

Although the exact risk factors for this disorder are not known, genetics, brain chemistry and excessive drug use may contribute to the disease. The symptoms of this disorder include hallucinations, delusions, irrational thinking, depressed mood and suicidal tendencies.

As such, there is not enough clarity on how to treat depression psychologically alongside schizophrenia. However, some of the recent studies have stated that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) may prove comparatively better for the treatment of depression alongside schizophrenia. Pharmacologically, many types of medications are used for treating both depression and schizophrenia, especially when they appear together. Antidepressants, such citalopram, have been found to be effective in treating depression.

Road to recovery

In the case of schizoaffective disorder, it is essential to visit medical experts to undergo a complete mental health assessment. They can effectively treat underlying depression and schizophrenia from the perspective of both psychology and medication. Though there is no cure for schizoaffective disorder, it can be managed and minimized through an effective treatment. As such, it is essential to treat depression to reduce the number of suicides.

If you or any of your loved one is suffering from depression, connect to the Depression Treatment Centers of California to know more about the best depression treatment facilities in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 or chat online to know more about the depression treatment in California.

Read the other articles of the series “Illnesses common with depression:”

  1. Anxiety
  2. Bipolar disorder


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