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Depressed? Here you can find out which symptoms help you recognise depression and when antidepressants can be a good option.

Inner restlessness and depression: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Depressive disorders are among the most common mental diseases. Indeed, according to the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists almost every fifth person will suffer from depression once during their lifetime. This corresponds to around 18 percent of the German population, with women being affected more often than men. The causes of depressive mood or depression are as diverse as the clinical symptoms. Acute stress situations, for example the end of a relationship or death of a close relative, can be triggers. Sometimes the reasons can be found in the past, such as traumatic childhood experiences. Inner restlessness or even depression can develop as a consequence of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, age dementia, addictions, and hormonal changes during menopause. Lack of sunlight during winter is also discussed as a trigger for depression, and often the tendency for depressive mood is inherited. However, in many people with depression a reason cannot be identified.

How to recognise depressive disorder

Depressive disorder has many faces. Not every symptom is always seen and symptoms are not the same in everyone. Affected people and their relatives often recognise a depression because the person has "somehow changed". Characteristic features of these kinds of changes, and therefore of depression, often include:

•    Depressed mood, often combined with a negative view of the future
•    Lack of joy and interests
•    Lack of drive
•    Feelings of guilt, low self-esteem
•    Sleeping disorders, lack of appetite and concentration

Only when several signs of the disease are present for at least two weeks does one speak of depression. Affected people also report on physical symptoms, such as weakness, digestive problems, muscular tension, or pain.

Minor depressive moods, which are accompanied for example by nervousness, sleep disorders, and restlessness, occur more and more and impact the quality of life. They are often the result of our modern society, characterised not only by its fast pace but also by high performance and the associated pressure. Affected people who are always trying to do more than they can really handle will sooner or later become overwhelmed. And in turn that takes a toll on the psyche. Inner restlessness and nervousness are typical consequences. People who are affected often cannot unwind even at night and get a restful night sleep. Accordingly, they are exhausted and unfocused the next day – a downward spiral that has to be stopped.

How depression can be treated

Depression is a disease that – just like any other disease – must be treated. The treatment of depression is usually based on a psychological assessment by a therapist. Whether the treatment is performed on an outpatient or inpatient basis depends on the severity of the depression.

If psychological therapy alone is not enough, certain medication, so-called antidepressants, can be used to support the treatment. The active substances contained in antidepressants modulate the metabolism of various messenger substances in the brain in different ways. This brain metabolism is disordered in people with depressive states and the psyche becomes unbalanced. The length of treatment with medication differ. Sometimes, even after improvement has been achieved, it is necessary to continue treatment with a lower dose for a longer period of time, often for years. This prevents relapsing into depression. A common characteristic of all antidepressants is that their full effect appears only after a delay of around two to four weeks. For treatment of minor depressive mood St. John's Wort and Valerian have been successful.

In addition to treatment with medication, the affected people can contribute a lot themselves to break out of a depressive mood. For example, sports, relaxation techniques, and good social contacts can help to find a way back to recovering one's inner strength. An overall healthy lifestyle also contributes to staying in balance.

Affected people and their relatives can find more information and help at the German Depression Help.

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