Depression – causes, treatment


Depression or chronic sadness (Latin deprimere “to depress”) is a state of psychological despondency . In psychiatry , depression is assigned to the affective disorders. Depression can also occur as a result of other illnesses.

What is depression?

Depression is a psychological condition characterized by severely negative and depressed moods and aversion to any type of activity. Depressed people feel sad, anxious , empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable , or restless . Most of the time, many of these signs appear simultaneously with depression and are so stressful for those affected that they feel ill and their ability to act is severely restricted.

Depressed people lose interest in activities, experience very little experience, and often have a poor appetite or overeat, become highly focused on their real or perceived problems, and often have difficulty making decisions. In extreme cases, depression can lead to a suicide attempt and to a successful suicide.

Specialists in psychiatry are authorized to professionally diagnose depression in Germany. In order to diagnose depression, certain characteristics must be present in a certain form. Mood swings must be above a certain level and there must be concrete indicators for the doctor to diagnose major depression or bipolar disorder (the term “manic-depressive episode” used to be common here).


At the present time, not all causes of depression are understood by science because they are very complex. Nevertheless, a combination of various causes can be assumed. The main role here is played by biological factors, developmental factors, cognitive processing mechanisms, and current events.

It is still controversial whether the depressions in many cases can clearly be traced back to a metabolic disorder in the brain. It is assumed here that messenger substances for the exchange of information in the brain regions cannot become sufficiently active. Doctors who come more from the field of depth psychology or cognitive behavioral therapy assume that depression is often related to life upheavals or was learned over long periods.

According to this approach, depression is a sign of the psychological system that coping with life can only become effective again after a certain period of rest. With this approach to therapy for depression, it is interpreted as a necessary step in order to achieve a new way of life.

diseases with this symptom


Depression can be associated with suicidality. The spectrum ranges from general thoughts of death to suicidal fantasies, planning, preparation and the execution of suicide attempts. In the case of suicidality, inpatient admission is indicated. The length of stay is very variable and depends on the individual case.

People with depression often suffer from concentration problems that hinder them in everyday life. Activities such as reading or watching TV can also sometimes prove problematic. Motivational and volitional difficulties also contribute to impairments at work, at school or in training. Social complications related to friends and family are common; depressive thought patterns can favor the emergence of conflicts. Regardless of this, people with depression often withdraw socially.

Cognitive disorders such as memory problems are also a possible complication of depression. These can take on the appearance of what is known as pseudodementia. Patients show symptoms that are very similar to those of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia . Short-term memory is often more affected than long-term memory .

The effects of antidepressants can vary from person to person. Some patients experience only a slow improvement in symptoms or no improvement. In some people, the condition can get worse despite antidepressants.

In response to depression, some sufferers develop other mental disorders, such as eating disorders .

When should you go to the doctor?

Depression can affect people of all ages and is independent of social status, occupation or gender. The symptoms of depression can often be very unspecific and so the person often does not notice that he or she is already in a depressive phase. In many cases, the patients suffer from inexplicable symptoms such as sadness, lack of drive, etc. It is usually family members or friends who notice the change in behavior and personality.

If these symptoms do not go away after a few days or weeks, going to the family doctor is the best way to start. The family doctor can then initiate the further steps for treatment. Especially when the person concerned can no longer find his or her way in everyday life, going to the family doctor or specialist is unavoidable. However, patients are often ashamed to tell someone about their mental health problems for fear of being stigmatized by society.

Long-term depression can also have a profound impact on social life, making normal household chores and work impossible. The existence is then endangered, because there is a risk of job loss or even the break-up of a partnership or marriage. A stay in a clinic can mean rescue from a difficult situation.

Treatment & Therapy

Self-treatment must be discouraged, since the processes of depression are too diverse. Important treatment options are psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and the use of antidepressant medication. This means that depression can be treated quite successfully these days.

Depending on the approach, psychotropic drugs ( antidepressants ) or psychotherapy are used to treat depression . But there are also depression experts who, depending on the situation, implement a combination therapy of medication and psychotherapy. In the case of depression, the psychotropic drugs can cause a change in the production of messenger substances in the brain. However, psychotropic drugs are not successful in all patients with depression, after which electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be used as an additional therapy.

Psychotherapy for depression tends to ensure that new behaviors can be learned in dealing with life upheavals. This therapy is more lengthy but in many cases also more stable in the long term because new behaviors are learned that can build a protective barrier against future depression.


The discussion between and therapist is decisive here. Psychotherapists, child and adolescent psychotherapists or medical psychotherapists are particularly suitable.

Outlook & Forecast

In the case of depression, the further course of the disease with possible complications always depends on the severity of the depression. If these are in a very low stage relatively at the beginning, they can also disappear again on their own if they were triggered by negative events in life. When these events turn positive, depression can be fought relatively easily.

In the case of more severe problems and severe depression, a visit to a doctor or a psychologist is usually necessary. In most cases, discussions and therapy with a psychologist help here. In the case of severe depression, medication must be used to contain it and to help the patient, especially in the early stages.

The relationship with the patient’s friends and relatives is also a very strong variable for the further course of the disease. You can provide a lot of help here to help the person concerned and to free them from the negative thoughts that lead to depression.

If the depression is not treated, it can also have negative effects on the living conditions. These include losing a job, antisocial behavior and possibly even drug or alcohol addiction . In the worst case, the depression ends with suicidal thoughts or the suicide itself.


It has long been known that the risk of depression is partly inherited.

Preventing depression can therefore make sense if suicides or serious physical illnesses have already occurred frequently in the family. In these cases, cognitive behavioral therapy would be used as a preventive measure.

Here, those who are susceptible to depression learn to gain a more comprehensive view of their work and life situation. Depression can be prevented in such a way that those affected are given more options for action.

Situations that often lead to depression are reassessed and are more manageable.

↳ More information: Home remedies for depression

You can do that yourself

Many people with depression find it helpful to have a clearly structured daily routine. Sensible rising and sleeping times form the framework of the daily schedule. Activity plans can help avoid too much idle time. The activities should be realistic and not overwhelm. In addition, it is an advantage if more strenuous and pleasant activities alternate.

Vitamin D can help improve symptoms. Therefore, sufficient daylight is of great importance for people suffering from depression. Getting up early in the morning and going for walks (e.g. half an hour a day) can help improve vitamin D levels.

Everyday exercise and sports are other ways to counter depression in everyday life. Exercise promotes the release of dopamine and serotonin , neurotransmitters that play a central role in depression. Regular meals are also useful. If necessary, those affected can also set an alarm on their cell phone so that they do not miss a meal. A balanced diet tends to have a positive effect on improving mental symptoms.

The extent to which friends, family members or other people should be informed about depression is individual. However, especially in the case of suicidality , self-harm or self-harm, it makes sense to initiate at least one trustworthy person and to develop an emergency plan.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.