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 depres-sion 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.
Symptoms: 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.
Treatment: 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.
Emotional low - how to overcome the depression
Getting up is difficult, coffee does not give you a boost and the bad mood will not blow over- everyone experiences such days when they are feeling down. Usually a low mood is a short phase that does not last. However, if the feeling of depression occurs more frequently or even remains permanent, this could be a symptom of a serious illness. You can find out here what causes can trigger an emotional low and how you can prevent and counteract it.
What is an emotional low?
The phenomenon "emotional low" shows itself in different and diverse ways. In general, a mental low describes a phase of depression in which positive feelings are difficult to manifest. A permanent feeling of sadness and lack of energy pervades the everyday life and leaves hardly any room for joy and lightness. People who are going through an emotional low often feel depressed and tired, they lose themselves in negative thought spirals, which can keep them permanently occupied and even deprive them of sleep.
How does an emotional low manifest itself?
Whether someone is currently experiencing an emotional low is often not directly apparent from the outside. People who are experiencing an emotional low can show mood swings or withdraw into themselves and from contact with friends or family. But this is not always the case. People who find themselves in a low mood are often despondent and sad, but sometimes they keep these feelings to themselves or do not immediately recognize them as an emotional low. If the affected persons withdraw socially, the depression can increase and signs of self-doubt and anxiety can appear. Opposing mechanisms such as excessive physical activity, workaholism or over-activity can also indicate that an emotional low is present.
An emotional low can also manifest itself in physical symptoms, such as:
- inner restlessness
- difficulties to focus and concentrate
- loss of appetite or weight gain due to uncontrolled eating
- gastrointestinal complaints
- back pain
What causes can trigger an emotional low?
There are difficult phases in life that have to be overcome. The triggers of a mental low are usually external circumstances such as:
- private or professional problems
- existential fears
- death or loss of a related person
But a sad mood can also simply be constitutional or the result of one's own lifestyle. A permanently unhealthy diet and a possible weight gain not only cause a lack of nutrients, but also frustration when looking at the scales. Increased consumption of alcohol or drugs, or even the abuse thereof, can also be the cause of a mental low, in the worst case even depression.
In winter, the probability of falling into an emotional low is quite high because of scarce sunshine and grey weather. People who suffer from such winter depressions are usually less active, tired and listless. In addition, vitamin D deficiency occurs more frequently in winter and manifests itself as lassitude and tiredness.
Behind an emotional low, physical and mental health problems such as depressions can be hidden. If the emotional low lasts longer than a week or two and you are unable to cope with your everyday life due to persistent symptoms, you should seek medical help.
What disease can be behind the symptom of an emotional low?
A persistent low mood and permanent fatigue are symptoms behind which psychological or physical illnesses can hide. If the emotional low occurs without a specific reason, it can be an indication of mental illness, for example:
- anxiety disorder
- inner restlessness
An emotional low can also be a sign of physical illness, for example:
- vitamin D deficiency
- iron deficiency
- hormonal problems due to the thyroid gland
- Parkinson’s disease
In female patients, hormonal changes occur for example in connection with the menopause or PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and this can also cause an emotional low.
Which therapy options are to be considered?
If the emotional low lasts longer than two weeks or occurs repeatedly and acutely, those affected should definitely consult a doctor or possibly a psychotherapist. The therapy plan depends on an actual medical diagnosis. If a mental illness is responsible for your mental low, psychotherapy may be advisable, possibly combined with drug support. If the emotional low is due to a physical illness, the therapy options are considered on the basis of the diagnosed illness.
Self-Help for a short-term emotional low
If you notice that you are experiencing an emotional low due to a difficult phase or external circumstances, there are ways to counteract the depressing feeling:
- Discuss your problems and emotional state with friends or family: An open conversation in which you communicate your worries and fears helps to interrupt negative thoughts and to find solutions together for a supposedly hopeless situation.
- Structure your daily routine: A regular day with adequate breaks for yourself creates a feeling of security and clarity.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet not only counteracts the feeling of lassitude and sluggishness after a rich meal, but also prevents a lack of nutrients.
- With healthy sleep against the emotional low: The right sleep rhythm is essential for a balanced daily routine and a more positive mood.
- Relaxation exercises and meditation against negative thoughts: To prevent a spiral of negative feelings from manifesting permanently, it is important to break it. When you meditate, you learn to let go of thoughts and concentrate only on yourself.
- Make sure of movement in your everyday life: A walk in the morning, a bike ride to work or a little jogging in the evening - there are many ways to actively combat the bad mood.
Getting out of the emotional low with the help of herbal alternatives
A personal crisis is sometimes not only stressful, but also triggers psychological symptoms such as depressed moods, which are accompanied by physical consequences such as insomnia and restlessness. Here it is advisable to intervene in good time with herbal remedies such as Sedariston® Konzentrat.
Sedariston® Konzentrat contains dry extracts of valerian and St. John's wort. St. John's wort and valerian have been proven to have a calming and mood-lifting effect on the symptoms of a stressful situation. Insomnia and grueling thought spirals can be controlled by the relaxing effect of valerian. If you are tense or have problems with your stomach, the antispasmodic effect of melissa, which is additionally contained in the Sedariston® Tropfen, helps.
In order to prevent an emotional low from becoming permanently established or worsening, it is important to counteract the emotional upset as early as possible. If your symptoms do not improve even after taking Sedariston® for 14 days and a mental low persists, you should always consult a doctor.