Internet Usage & Psychotic Depression
by Keith Vaughn
Excessive, compulsive Internet usage is associated with depression though not necessarily psychotic depression. According to PsychCentral.com, the factors that cause psychotic depression are not fully understood, and there are no clearly defined risk factors for developing the disorder. A genetic predisposition to depressive or psychotic disorders is one possible factor for developing psychotic depression.
Major depression with psychotic features, also referred to as psychotic depression, is a condition that features symptoms of both depression and psychosis. According to MedicineNet.com, approximately 25 percent of those who enter a hospital due to depression experience psychotic depression. Unlike patients with other mental conditions that have psychotic features, such as schizophrenia, those with psychotic depression may be aware that their thoughts are abnormal.
Symptoms of major depression may include persistent sad feelings and moods, anxiety, irritability, difficulty focusing, loss of energy and interest in enjoyable activities, withdrawal from family and friends, noticeable changes in appetite and sleeping patterns, and a preoccupation with death and suicide.
Psychosis, which generally involves a loss of contact with reality, may feature symptoms including delusions, auditory and/or visual hallucinations, behavioral and emotional disturbances, fear and paranoia.
According to MedLine Plus, suicide and self-destructive behavior are among the most serious complications of psychotic depression. The content of the delusions and hallucinations experienced by those with psychotic depression may be reflective of their mental states. Those with psychotic depression may hear voices that urge them to harm or kill themselves.
According to HelpGuide.org, social withdrawal in favor of spending time online, lying about or hiding the amount of time spent online and neglecting daily tasks in favor of internet use may all be signs of Internet addiction.
According to research conducted by a team of psychologists from the University of Leeds in the UK and described in a 2010 article from ScienceDaily.com, compulsive Internet usage is associated with depressive symptoms. However, the research did not determine whether Internet usage causes depression or depression causes a tendency toward excessive Internet use.
The psychologists from the University of Leeds indicate that Internet users who have difficulty controlling the amount of time they spend on the internet may be replacing physical, interpersonal interaction with social networking websites, message boards and chat rooms. According to HelpGuide.org, compulsive Internet use may contribute to feelings of isolation and exacerbate pre-existing depression.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a type of psychotherapy, may help to treat Internet addiction and the depression associated with it. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a combination of atypical antipsychotic medications and antidepressants may be an effective treatment for psychotic depression. Some cases of psychotic depression may also be treated by electroconvulsive therapy.