Can depression cause you to go insane?
First of all; if you are suffering from depression YOU MUST SEEK HELP!!!
I think that I understand what you mean by insane. I've lived with depression for as long as I can remember. The first time I sought help was when I turned 30. Late one night, after I came home from work and felt that my depression would eventually kill me one way or another, I called the suicide hotline and talked to a woman who encouraged me to seek help.
Anyways, to answer your question; yes I do believe that the constant fight to keep your ‘head above water' can finally be too much for a person. The constant questioning yourself, the constant feeling of being inferior to others, the worthlessness, the hopelessness and despair. A friend, who knows about my depression, recently told me about a woman he worked with that was depressed; she worked so hard trying to keep up a facade at work and that it was so tiring that she didn't have the energy to keep her own house clean. I have never been able to keep my apartment clean and this is why. If a person doesn't sleep it can drive them insane and eventually kill them. The constant mental fatigue of fighting depression is quite similar.
What is often diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder refers to a pattern of developing schizophrenia-like symptoms during intense bouts of depression or anxiety. In other words, psychotic symptoms arise in connection with identifiable emotional states. Some people with this condition may indeed feel like they are going insane during a depressive episode.
Indeed, what is often referred to as insanity refers to a human being's immense difficulty coping with a set of traumatic stressors. Accordingly, deep, unresolved depression may give rise to other emotional illnesses. This is why seeking treatment is crucial. These problems do not "clear up" or "go away" by themselves.
The question you have asked depends a lot on what your present understanding or definition of these two terms are. For a quick definition check: many people will have a short period in their lives when they get the "blues", feel sad, don't want to do things that sort or thing. If this is a brief episode and they get better, then OK.
However if a person has long, severe and/or re-occurring bouts of this, then seeing a family doctor will be in order. A clinical diagnosis of depression is made and the person may be helped by the use of anti-depressant meds. More severe forms of depression can also be part of a much more serious psychiatric diagnosis, that would require the services of a psychiatrist. One such example would be Manic Depression, now called Bipolar Disorder. The depression phase of this disorder is treated only by a psychiatrist (as well as the Manic phase).
Insane is a legal word, not a medical term. According to law.com, the legal definition of insane is the mental illness of such nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/ his personal affairs due to psychosis or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.
That is the closest that can be said about this topic.
Depression doesn't cause one to go "insane" though it may feel like it at the time as you feel yourself losing control to your overwhelmingly sad emotions, and since feelings and emotions direct most of our actions and behaviour, thus depression may seem to be controlling one's actions and thus the feeling of "Going Insane" as one helplessly tries to escape the grips of depression.
It's true that the Depressive disorder is one of the Mental Disorders, but it doesn't mean the person is mental or insane, just out of balance where his/her mood is concerned. Luckily most people snap out of it through counseling, therapy, change of environment and/or drugs which is hard to say for other mental disorders.
In case of a bipolar and related disorders, the depression is only one part of the length of the disease, the other part,"Mania" which is; experiencing high mood, increased energy, feelings of grandiosity etc (the exact opposite of depression) for no apparent reason is something to look out for after one has come out of "Depression"
I'll always remember the time when I was severely depressed and I woke up in the middle of the night feeling incredibly anxious and fearful. I was convinced that I had seen the future and that my life was only going to get worse. My mind was racing and I felt 100% confident I was only going to continue suffering.
In that moment I was delusional. I had an overwhelming urge to kill myself. It was the only logical thing to do, because I had seen a glimpse of my future and I knew for certain that I would never be happy. I felt like I was going mad. My heart was racing and I was fumbling around trying to find my cellphone. I wanted to check myself in a mental institute, because the urge to kill myself was so powerful.
Thankfully, I never did find my phone. I felt so sick that I had to crawl to the bathroom wanting to vomit. Twenty minutes passed and my anxiety slowly decreased and I was coming back to my senses. I dismissed my prophecy as a hallucination and I went back to sleep.
At least I hope it was only a hallucination..
"Insanity" is more of a legal term, but is not used by physicians, unless they are forensic psychiatrists and will need to testify in court. Depression is a debilitating mental illness. It is a chemical flaw. A person with depression needs to seek professional health. Major depression completely debilitates a person to a point where they are no longer functional, unable to live their day to day lives. Left untreated a person might become suicidal, lose interest in living. "Insanity" might be akin to psychosis; there are many kinds of psychosis - some of which can be experienced by people even without a mental illness in certain circumstances (illness, sleep deprivation, injury, shock, etc). Sometimes extreme depression combined with anxiety might cause some kind of delusion or hallucination.
But to my understanding, a few specific kinds of mental illnesses might lead to serious recurrent psychosis, and even this is often treatable with medication and/or other therapies. Sometimes although rare, psychosis can be caused by medications; the patient reacts - the medication's effect turns out to be other than intended. a depressed person should seek therapy or see a psychiatrist if they believe they are having delusions or hallucinations.
The sooner depression is treated the less of a chance of it becoming a major depression, and the less of a chance of having a psychotic episode.