DepressionDepression causes the deep-seated feeling of being inescapably trapped in a prison of gloomy thoughts and weakness. The experienced helplessness is one of the symptoms of depression. In fact, however, help is almost always possible. More about symptoms, causes and treatment of depression.
The terms depression or depressed are commonly used in everyday life. Often relate to a depressed mood or sadness. Depression in the sense of a disease is to be distinguished from it. In the case of depression, those affected sit hopelessly and imprisoned in a prison of gloomy thoughts and physical weakness. It seems impossible to escape – this is part of the clinical picture. In fact, however, the therapy is more often less difficult than amed. The silver bullet for treating depression is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is often accompanied by drug therapy.
One of the pitfalls of depression is that it doesn't usually start suddenly. In fact, many patients experience the disease as a gradual process. If you lose interest in your hobbies or your work, withdraw more and more frequently, hardly feel any friends and feel increasingly apathetic, you should discuss this with a doctor.
If you have suicidal thoughts, see a doctor or therapist immediately. This is often easier if you confide in a family member or someone close to you.
According to the German Federal Statistical Office, about six million adults between the ages of 18 and 65 suffer from depression within a year. Around 12 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 17 also experience depression. According to this study, women are affected about twice as often as men in all age groups. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, more than 260.000 Germans per year in full inpatient treatment. In the past 10 years, the number of sick days due to depression has more than doubled.
In 2018, the number of sick days taken for mental illness declined for the first time in 12 years. At 236 sick days per 100 employees, the proportion of the total is 5.6 percent lower than in the previous year. These are the results of a DAK study of more than 2.5 million working people. However, mental illnesses are still the third most common cause of sick leave – behind back pain and colds.
Meanwhile, 1 in 6. Working antidepressants. According to Professor Dr. Gerd Glaeske, University of Bremen, the number of daily doses has increased sevenfold within 22 years: from 200.000 units in 1991 to more than 1.4 billion units in 2013. This amount is enough to treat 3.7 million people with antidepressants for a whole year.
More than 322 million people worldwide suffer from depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this is an increase of 18 percent within 10 years.
Depression is an often severe mental illness that is associated with a high suicide rate. The sadness and listlessness of depression has nothing in common with normal sadness (after a bereavement or a break-up, for example). Depressed people often describe their condition as indifferent, empty and burnt out. Not being able to feel and mourn depresses patients and often fills them with anxiety.
The numbness is usually combined with an inhibition of drive. In the case of depression, the patient often feels unable to perform even simple tasks. They can't get up the nerve to do anything, have no initiative and no drive, and every activity becomes a torment. Mood is often worst in the morning. Improves slightly during the course of the day. Often the posture is flabby and bent, speech is quiet and monotonous. Indivudally, the symptoms of depression can be very different. In addition to defensive signs such as sadness or withdrawal, symptoms such as inner anxiety, irritability, impotence, sleep disturbances, or inner restlessness occur, for example.
Depression and bipolar disorder
Sometimes depression alternates with equally unfounded or exaggerated high spirits (manias). The affected person is excessively active, good-humored and lively. This clinical picture used to be called manic depression. In the meantime, the term bipolar disorder has become established.
In current research, it is now undisputed that the tendency to depression is hereditary. Children of parents with a history of depression have more than twice the risk of developing depression themselves later in life than children of healthy parents.
Neurobiologists explain the significantly higher frequency of depression in women among other things with the female hormone balance. Women are much more susceptible to the onset of depression before menstruation, during pregnancy or after childbirth. However, men can also suffer from depression. In contrast to dejection and extreme sadness in women, they often have increased irritability, moodiness, anger and aggressiveness, even suicidal tendencies.
Tendency to depression is also learned
According to medical and psychological experts, learned behavior patterns and ways of thinking play the greatest role in the development of depression. For example, those who are more pessimistic about the world run a higher risk of falling into a downward spiral and thus depression. Psychology ames that such pessimism is largely shaped in childhood and further internalized as a habitual view throughout life.
Depression is favored by stress, anxiety, as well as traumatic experiences such as the death of a loved one, job loss, or separations.
Physical causes of depression
In rare cases, depression can also be attributed to a direct physical cause, such as after a stroke or when taking medications that affect hormone or brain metabolism. Alcohol abuse or addictive disorders can also trigger depression.
Depression due to inflammation
Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatism are more likely than average to be affected by depression. Recently, more and more voices have been raised that it is not the accompanying circumstances of these diseases, but inflammations that cause depression. For example, urinary tract infections, ulcerative colitis or periodontal disease could also promote depression.
The therapy of depression belongs in the hands of an experienced physician or psychologist. Depending on the cause and severity of the depression, the doctor, preferably a specialist in psychiatry or neurology, will first treat the depression with medication. They can choose between activating. depressant medications.
Medications for depression, also called antidepressants, intervene in the brain metabolism, which is out of balance. Thus, they can reduce the severity or frequency of depressive phases. The antidepressant effect of these drugs only sets in after about two weeks.
Suicide risk due to antidepressants
Drug therapy for depression should be closely monitored. It is not at all uncommon for suicidal thoughts, for example, to be put into action when an activating medication gives the patient the energy for this desperate act.
Behavioral therapy for depression
In any case, depression should also be treated psychotherapeutically as soon as possible. The so-called cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be particularly successful in this context. This therapy pursues the goal of testing learned inner beliefs by example, practicing new experiences and thus finding constructive new thoughts and attitudes.
In contrast to depressive moods, depressions are severe illnesses that usually cannot be managed alone. Therefore, the best self-help is to acknowledge the fact of depression and seek help. Go to a doctor, a counseling center, a psychotherapist or psychologist. Self-help groups and Internet forums help people find their way out of depression. Remember: It is a symptom of depression that sufferers do not believe in cure and way out. This makes it all the more important to focus strength on beginning treatment. Help is possible!
Mild depression symptoms can be relieved with a herbal medicine made from St. John's wort. However, the effect only occurs after about two weeks.
Role of family and friends in depression
Often it is family, friends or colleagues who first notice the symptoms of depression in another person. Usually the disease is relatively advanced by this time. One of the symptoms of depression is that the affected person is unable to accept an illness and very often refuses help. This sometimes makes it difficult to deal with people when depression is suspected.
If you want to help, you should try to follow these recommendations for dealing with depressed people.
– Pity and comfort confirm depressives in their misery and are no help in finding the way out of depression. Allow sufferers to complain without feeling sorry for them. – Prompts such as "Don't let yourself get so down" or "others are also feeling bad" increase the prere and thus the feeling of helplessness. Such well-intentioned appeals usually drive sufferers further into social withdrawal. Better act with empathetic questions instead of advice. – Hold back with evaluations. Convey the feeling of being there for the person with the illness. However, do not make yourself an accomplice to depression by promoting sadness or social withdrawal by providing special assistance. Try to keep a certain distance from the affected person. – Give the depressed person the feeling that he can help himself. Refer to information on depression. The good chances of success of a therapy. – Take suicide threats especially seriously, even if they are voiced more often and not carried out. Most people announce their suicide beforehand. A particular warning sign is when those affected, for example, put their financial affairs in order. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if necessary. Better a false alarm than a completed suicide. – As a relative or friend of a depressed person, you will benefit from self-help groups for this group of people or from psychological counseling.
Depression often follows a prolonged period of overwhelm, stress or anxiety. Accordingly, avoiding stress and anxiety can prevent depression.
Another trigger are so-called traumatic experiences such as death or separation. If you feel your behavior changing after trauma (or notice this in family members or friends), seek early conversation with others or psychological counseling.