What do you know about depression

Depression - the most important questions explained in brief

How do you recognize depression? How common is the disease? What can those affected do? The most important questions in brief

“Everyone is sad at times!” Is the motto when people talk about their depression. Well-intentioned advice is then quickly at hand, such as "You have to see the positive things in life too!" Or "Others are much worse off!" What many do not know: Depression is not a passing mood - it is a serious illness that - just like a physical illness - must be treated. Because severe depression not only robs those affected of the joie de vivre and the courage to face life. Often enough they lead to suicide.

How common is depression?

Depression can have several triggers; for some it is a traumatic experience like the loss of a loved one, for others it is stress at work. Then there is the disposition. Children of sick parents have a 50 percent higher risk of getting sick too.

As different as the triggers can be - the feeling of depressed people is often similar: the food tastes bland, rainy days are even more cloudy than usual, an oppressive feeling spreads in the stomach area. Those affected lose interest in things that were otherwise important to them, suffer from insomnia and anxiety. The soul darkens, life becomes a burden. If such a condition lasts longer than two weeks, one speaks of a depression.

This condition is so profound that it even changes the brain. The mass of the hippocampus, an area of ​​the brain, can decrease by up to 20 percent in depressed people.

Doctors differentiate between mild, moderate, and severe depression. In the mild form, only a few of the symptoms appear - and those only so severe that those affected can still largely cope with their everyday lives. People with moderate depression can only maintain everyday activities, such as working, playing sports, meeting friends, with great difficulty. Those who are seriously ill, on the other hand, often also lose all self-esteem. Thoughts of suicide are not uncommon.

The course of the disease varies greatly from person to person. She attacks some of those affected from one day to the next. You feel like you have plunged into a deep, black hole. With others it occurs insidiously.

Who should see a doctor?

Not everyone who is sad for a long time after a bad event, such as the loss of a loved one, is also sick. But if the state of deep sadness, lack of interest and loss of energy lasts longer than two weeks and means that those affected can only cope with their everyday life to a limited extent or no longer at all, they should seek help. Especially when you have the feeling that you can no longer get out of the depths of your soul on your own. The sooner you take this step, the better. Because depression recognized early on can often be treated well and shortened. Later “relapses” are also shorter and less stressful.

What helps against depression?

In any case, it is important that those affected admit their need for help and dare to take the first step. This can be a personal conversation with the partner or a loved one. Because depression has to be treated. In any case, those affected should also confide in their family doctor or a psychologist.

The German Depression Aid lists numerous offers of help and information - from the social psychiatric service to information telephones and self-help groups. Anyone who has even thought of suicide is an emergency - and must not hesitate to contact the nearest psychiatric clinic immediately or simply to dial 112.

What helps in any case - and costs nothing, except for a bit of overcoming - is regular exercise. If you do sports several times a week, preferably together with others, or just go for a walk, you can significantly alleviate the symptoms of depression - without any side effects. Often, however, additional measures will be required.

Tried and tested: psychotherapies

Since depression is a disease that manifests itself both on the psychological level and on the neurobiological level, it can also be approached therapeutically from two sides - namely with psychotherapy and with medication.

Psychotherapeutic methods such as behavior therapy or depth psychological treatment have the advantage that they can reduce the suffering over the long term. Creative therapies such as art and dance therapy as well as occupational and sports therapy can also be useful. But unfortunately there is no such thing one Path to healing. The Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists provides information on which forms of therapy are offered and how to find a therapist with whom one would like to work in its guide "Ways to Psychotherapy".

Antidepressants can support therapies

In the past, depressed people were often "treated" with sedatives. Or rather: immobilized - often at the cost of addiction. Modern antidepressants, on the other hand, have side effects, but neither change the personality nor make them dependent. For moderate and severe depression, they are often prescribed to aid in psychotherapy. Especially in the case of severe depression, antidepressants must often be used first in order to enable those affected to benefit from psychotherapy.

What can loved ones with depression do?

The illness of a family member or partner is also a challenge and a burden for relatives. But you should be aware that depression is a temporary - and curable - illness. Be indulgent and do not try to explain to sufferers the objective baselessness of their suffering.

People suffering from depression often do not find the strength to see a doctor. Here relatives can encourage and support.

It is important, however, that relatives continue to look after themselves despite the often stressful situation. Because only those who are healthy can provide good support. Do not overwhelm yourself and seek contact with other people in a similar situation: There are also self-help groups for relatives.

Dealing with suicidal thoughts is of course particularly challenging - especially when it comes to a loved one. The German Depression Aid also has well-founded advice on this.