According to a Current Psychiatry article by Dr. Samuel G. Siris, about 25 percent of people with schizophrenia also experience depression. The reason for this high rate of depression in these patients is linked to “reduced social and vocational functioning, increased likelihood of psychotic relapse and rehospitalization, and other problems,” according to Dr. Siris.
Depression in people with schizophrenia is also prominent because they tend to experience sudden losses of relationships, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and other troubling events in their lives due to their erratic behaviors, caused by unstable brain activity.
Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose a person with schizophrenia because many of its negative effects are similar to the symptoms of depression. For example, a person with the beginnings of schizophrenia might experience lowered energy, reduced speech, reduced activity, low self-confidence, and social withdrawal, which can all be signs of depression as well. You should speak with a mental health professional if you or your loved one is experiencing any or all of these signs so that mental health professionals can make a diagnosis if necessary.
Antipsychotic drugs, though they can treat certain symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, may also cause depression as an inadvertent side effect in some patients. One reason for this is that antipsychotic medications block dopamine receptors in the brain.
Dopamine is a brain chemical responsible for sending messages within the brain about pleasure and joy. Since antipsychotic drugs block the reception of this chemical in the brain, patients who take these drugs may feel relief from their disorders, but may also experience a loss of joy or excitement about things that used to make them happy, causing them to experience symptoms of depression.
It is important to follow up with your doctor after starting an antipsychotic drug to determine whether your symptoms may actually be adverse side effects of the medication. Your doctor or therapist may be able to change your medication or dosage to avoid these and other unwanted side effects.
For more information on depression in people with schizophrenia, reach out to us. We will help you as best we can in this fight against mental illness.