Depression causes the deep-seated feeling of being inescapably trapped in a prison of dark thoughts and weakness. The helplessness experienced is one of the symptoms of depression. In fact, help is almost always possible. The terms depression or depressed are often used in everyday life. Often times they relate to a depressed mood or sadness. A distinction must be made between depression in the sense of an illness. With depression, those affected sit hopelessly and locked in a prison of dark thoughts and physical weakness. An escape appears – this is part of the clinical picture – impossible. In fact, the therapy is often less difficult than assumed. The ideal solution for the treatment of depression is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is often accompanied by drug therapy.
One of the pitfalls of depression is that it usually doesn’t start suddenly. Rather, many patients experience the disease as a gradual process. If you lose interest in your hobbies or work, withdraw more and more often, hardly make friends anymore, and feel more and more indifferent, you should discuss this with a doctor.
If you have thoughts of suicide, you should see a doctor or therapist immediately. This is often easier when you confide in a family member or a loved one.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, around six million adults between the ages of 18 and 65 will develop depression within a year. Around 12 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 17 also experience depression. According to this, women are affected about twice as often as men in all age groups. According to the Federal Statistical Office, more than 260,000 Germans go to full inpatient treatment every year. In the past 10 years, the number of sick days due to depression has more than doubled.
In 2018, the number of sick leave due to mental illness fell for the first time in 12 years. The proportion of the total number of 236 days absent per 100 employees is 5.6 percent lower than in the previous year. These are the results of a DAK study with more than 2.5 million employees. Mental illnesses are still the third most common cause of sick leave – behind back pain and colds.
Every 6th employed person now takes 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 feed 3.7 million people for a whole year Treat antidepressants.
More than 322 million people around the world have depression. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), that is an increase of 18 percent within 10 years.
Depression is an often severe mental illness that is associated with a high rate of suicide. The sadness and listlessness of depression have nothing in common with normal sadness (after a bereavement or a breakup, for example). Depressed people often describe their condition as indifferent, empty, and burned out. Not being able to feel and not being able to grieve depresses the patient and often fills them with fear.
The numbness is usually combined with inhibition of drive. With depression, sufferers often find themselves unable to perform even simple tasks. You can’t get yourself up to anything, have no initiative and no vigor, every activity becomes torture. The mood is often worst in the morning and improves slightly during the day. Often the posture is slack and hunched, the speech soft and monotonous. The symptoms of depression can vary widely. In addition to defensive signs such as sadness or withdrawal, symptoms such as inner feelings of fear, irritability, impotence, sleep disorders or inner restlessness occur.
Depression And Bipolar Disorder
Sometimes the depression alternates with unfounded or exaggerated high spirits (manias). The affected person is overly active, cheerful, and lively. This condition was formerly known as manic depression. The term bipolar disorder is now gaining ground.
In the current research, it is now undisputed that the tendency to depression is hereditary. Children of parents with a history of depression are more than twice as likely to develop depression themselves later 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 significantly more susceptible to the onset of depression before menstruation, during pregnancy, or after giving birth. But men can also get depression. In contrast to depression and extreme sadness in women, they often focus on increased irritability, disgruntlement, anger, and aggressiveness up to and including suicidal intentions.
The Tendency To Depression Is Also Learned
According to the assessment of medicine and psychology, 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 into a depression. Psychology assumes that such pessimism is largely shaped in childhood and further internalized in the course of life as a familiar point of view.
Depression is favored by stress, fear, and traumatic experiences such as the death of a loved one, job loss, or separation.
Physical Causes Of Depression
In rare cases, depression can also be traced back to a direct physical cause, for example after a stroke or when taking drugs that affect hormone or brain metabolism. Alcohol abuse or addictions can also trigger depression.
Depression From Inflammation
Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases with multiple sclerosis or rheumatism are more often affected by depression. Recently there have been increasing voices that it is not the accompanying circumstances of these diseases, but inflammation that cause depression. Urinary tract infections, ulcerative colitis or periodontal disease could also promote depression.
The therapy of depression belongs in the hands of an experienced doctor 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. He has the choice between activating and depressant drugs.
The drugs against depression, also called antidepressants, intervene in the unbalanced brain metabolism. In this way, they can reduce the severity or frequency of the depressive phases. The antidepressant effects of these drugs only set in after about two weeks.
Risk Of Suicide From Antidepressants
Drug therapy for depression should be closely monitored. It is by no means uncommon for suicidal thoughts, for example, to be put into practice when an activating drug gives the patient the energy for this act of desperation.
Behavioral Therapy For Depression
In any case, depression should also be treated psychotherapeutically as soon as possible. So-called cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be particularly successful. The aim of this therapy is to test learned inner convictions using examples, to practice new experiences, and thus to find constructive new thoughts and attitudes.
In contrast to depressive moods, depression is a serious illness that can usually not be dealt with on its own. Hence, the best self-help is to acknowledge the fact of depression and seek help. Go to a doctor, counseling center, psychotherapist, or psychologist. Self-help groups or internet forums help to find the way out of depression. Remember: It is a symptom of depression that sufferers do not believe in a cure or a solution. It is all the more important to focus the strength on the beginning of treatment. Help is possible!
Mild symptoms of depression can be relieved with a herbal medicine made from St. John’s wort. However, it takes about two weeks to take effect.
Role Of Family And Friends In Depression
Often it is family, friends or colleagues who first notice the symptoms of depression in another person. As a rule, the disease is already relatively advanced at this point. One of the symptoms of depression is that those affected cannot perceive an illness and very often refuse help. This can make it difficult to deal with people who are suspected of having depression.
If you are looking to help, try following the recommendations below for dealing with people who are depressed.
- Compassion and comfort confirm depressed people in their misery and are of no help in finding the way out of depression. Let those affected whines without feeling sorry for them.
- Calls like “Don’t let yourself get down like that” or “Others are doing badly too” increase the pressure and thus the feeling of helplessness. Such well-intentioned appeals usually drive those affected further into social retreat. It is better to act with empathetic questions rather than advice.
- Hold back with evaluations. Convey the feeling of being there for the sick person. However, do not make yourself an accomplice of the depression by promoting sadness or social withdrawal through special assistance. Try to keep a certain distance from the person concerned.
- Make the depressed person feel like they can help themselves. Point out information about depression and the good chance of therapy for success.
- Take suicide threats particularly seriously, even if they are made more often and not carried out. Most people give advance notice of their suicide. A special warning sign is when those affected are sorting out your financial affairs, for example. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if necessary. Better a false alarm than committed suicide.
- As a relative or friend of a depressed person, you benefit from self-help groups for these groups of people or from psychological counseling.
Depression often follows a prolonged phase of excessive stress, stress, or anxiety. Similarly, avoiding stress and anxiety can help prevent depression.
Another trigger is so-called traumatic experiences such as death or separation. If you feel that you are changing your behavior after a trauma (or you notice this in relatives or friends), you should seek discussion with others or psychological counseling at an early stage.
Basically, the risk of depression decreases with intact social ties, a positive self-image, and a realistic assessment of the environment.