When it comes to depression, it can be more common than not to have multiple conditions going on at the same time. Depression can be a co-morbid condition of many chronic medical diseases such as diabetes,Multiple Sclerosis,and Rheumatoid Arthritis. One can also be dually diagnosed with more than one mental or neurological disorder. Depression can be a problem for those who suffer from anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, or ADHD.
Today we are going to talk about depression and schizophrenia.
I have had the honor to get an interview with Christina Bruni who is the community leader and lead writer for Health Central’s SchizophreniaConnection. I visit the schizophrenia site regularly as my mother has this mental disorder. Christina had recently interviewed me about my experience with having a parent who has schizophrenia. I was eager to ask for Christina’s firsthand expertise in how one copes with having both schizophrenia and depression. In my experience in living with my mother, it seemed that her schizophrenia diagnosis took precedence over any depression symptoms, which largely went unrecognized or treated. I am hoping that this interview will help to increase awareness of the signs of depression for those who are also diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Can depression be a co-morbid condition of schizophrenia? Are the signs and symptoms of depression often missed because an individual has schizophrenia?
Christina Bruni: Depression can co-occur with the symptoms of schizophrenia. One debate is whether the person who experiences the negative symptoms of schizophrenia is actually depressed. A psychiatrist I interviewed about three years ago suggested adding an anti-depressant to the mix to see if the person would perk up. A negative symptom of schizophrenia-so-called negative because it takes away from ordinary experience or reduces it-can be a lack of motivation. So it can be tricky to know whether the person is depressed or simply exhibiting a negative symptom.
The doctor I spoke with said sometimes it's worth it to try an anti-depressant in this case. One thing is that there exists a diagnosis of schizoaffective: a combination of schizophrenia with a clear-cut mood disorder that could be mania or depression co-existing with the SZ. Or a person can have depression with psychotic features. So the psychiatrist has to carefully assess what might be going on.
I know other people with schizophrenia-and one person with bipolar-who take anti-depressants so it is possible for the psychiatrist to pick up on it. However like I said depression can be mistaken for a negative symptom.
What is the experience like to have both depression and schizophrenia?
Christina Bruni: Okay: for close to 10 years I had seasonal affective disorder. Starting in the late fall and lasting miraculously and exactly up until the first day of spring I was in tears at night for two hours straight every night. Only I didn't really connect the two-SAD and SZ-and felt I was just a crying mess and who would want to marry me if he had to deal with a crybaby all the time?