When we talk about depression we should be clear that depression has nothing to do with bad moods. Depression is a clinical condition that requires professional help.
What is depression?
Depression is a serious mental illness that absolutely must be treated professionally! Unlike sadness and lethargy, which are part of life, depression does not go away on its own after a while and does not improve through distraction or encouragement. Sometimes depression can even lead to suicide. Experts strongly advise people suffering from depression to seek professional help. Relatives and friends of depressed people should also be vigilant and not take the obvious symptoms of depression in loved ones as an overreaction, lack of self-discipline or even character weakness, but try to respond sympathetically and gently offer their help.
Depression can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or social status. Nearly one in five people in the world will become depressed at some point in their lives. Women are two to three times more likely than men to have it. Those affected are not to blame for their illness - yet many are embarrassed about it and shy away from going to the doctor and getting help.
How to recognize depression. Symptoms
Sometimes it is difficult to recognize depression. There is no blood test or exact method for determining depression. Depression manifests itself as a multitude of complaints, which usually appear slowly and last for a fairly long period of time - at least two weeks.
- depressed mood: A prolonged, almost continuous depressive mood that causes a person to suffer;
- inner emptiness and loss of interest: A characteristic feature of depression is that those affected feel no joy, surprise, or any other feelings. They feel empty and emotionally dead inside. They lose interest in social contacts, work and hobbies. Attempts to cheer them up have no effect. Even positive experiences do not improve their mood. Everything seems hopeless to the afflicted. Some even lose the will to live;
- Lack of motivation even for everyday activities / increased fatigue: Depressed people find it difficult to cope even with everyday tasks. They feel mentally and physically exhausted all the time. Even getting up in the morning requires enormous effort. Fatigue becomes the norm.
The transition from a phase in which someone doesn't feel so good to a depressed state is often smooth.
There are other additional symptoms characteristic of depression:
- sleep disturbances;
- severe anxiety and inner turmoil;
- decreased concentration and impaired attention;
- lowered self-esteem;
- negative thoughts about the future, hopelessness;
- loss of appetite;
- loss of sexual interest;
- suicidal thoughts.
Depending on the number and combination of primary and secondary symptoms, a mild, moderate or severe form of depression is considered.
Sleep disturbances are often a sign of impending depression and are very common in mild depression. People suddenly begin to have trouble sleeping, and this goes on for many nights. They wake up in the middle of the night and then cannot sleep again. Their head is filled with negative thoughts. Signs of severe depression include negative thoughts about the future and suicidal thoughts, loss of appetite, guilt, and extremely low attention and concentration.
Possible causes of depression
Depression results from the interaction of biological and psychosocial causes. The degree to which genetic predisposition, events and influences from childhood and the current stage of life play a role is different for each affected person.
If there is an illness, it is not uncommon to find acute triggers beforehand. These can be all sorts of life changes, even seemingly positive ones, such as a promotion. Loss and separation are often triggers for depressive episodes, as well as chronic stress and pressure at work. However, they can also occur without a recognizable external trigger.
What should I do if I have a depressive disorder?
If you find yourself with symptoms of depression, know that there is no shame in it. It is important to confide in someone and tell them how you feel and your fears. Many people feel inner emptiness and lethargy for weeks, but do not talk about it and do not go to a specialist. This is especially true for men, who often perceive depression as a sign of weakness. As a result, treatment becomes more difficult and time-consuming, and the risk of escalating the illness into a chronic one increases. This can have fatal consequences. The earlier treatment begins, the better the chances of a quick cure. So it is very important to see a doctor in time.
Depending on the severity of the illness, depression is usually treated with two main therapeutic methods: psychotherapy or medication therapy with antidepressants.
Psychotherapy requires patience on the part of the patient. Treatment often lasts for several months. Classical psychoanalysis and psychotherapy based on depth psychology are among the most popular. They are based on the idea that depression often stems from experiences of loss and pain, which are to be treated in therapy. Psychotherapy helps to overcome one's depression in the long term and improve overall psychological stability.
Antidepressants are usually prescribed for more severe depression or when the patient does not accept psychotherapy. It can be used to successfully treat symptoms of depression. Often the medication does not begin to work until a few weeks later.
If medication is stopped, there is a risk of relapse - especially if done abruptly. So don't stop taking antidepressants on your own, but discuss the procedure with your doctor!
Often both methods are used at the same time. It depends on the severity of the depression. For mild depression, antidepressants are not prescribed right away.
Sports and physical activity are often recommended as concomitant measures in treatment because they can alleviate symptoms of depression and improve well-being.
Depression can be treated as an outpatient or inpatient. In addition, treatment is now available through online consultations with a specialist.