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What is depression?

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What exactly is meant by depression ? Depression in the medical sense must be clearly distinguished from depressive moods that everyone knows and that are part of life. Although the distinction to mild depression can be fluent, the symptoms of depression usually allow a clear diagnosis: In addition to the depressed mood, depressive people usually suffer from impulses to drive. Everything happens as if against a leaden resistance.

Those affected are often unable to make the smallest decisions, have lost the ability to feel joy. There are concentration disorders, feelings of guilt and inferiority, usually an accompanying anxiety and anxiety. In addition, physical discomfort, as well as insomnia or lack of appetite, often associated with weight loss, are common in most cases.

But depression is not the same as depression . The internationally recognized and also nationally used diagnostic system ICD 10 (International Classification of Disorders, WHO) differentiates between different types of depression:

Slight depressive episode

A person with a mild depressive episode suffers from at least two or three of the above symptoms. However, despite the condition, in a mild depressive episode one is able to continue the day to day activities.

Moderate depressive episode

If four or more of the above symptoms are present, it is called a moderate depressive episode. At this level of illness, everyday activities are very difficult for the patient.

Severe depressive episode

The major depressive episode is divided as follows:

- without psychotic symptoms with several of the symptoms described above. Added to this is usually the feeling of worthlessness coupled with suicidal thoughts.

- Psychotic symptoms (such as hallucinations, delusions and / or psychomotor inhibition) that are so pronounced that social activities are scarcely possible, and most of them do not feel hungry or thirsty, which results in an acute mortal danger.

Other common types of depression

Postpartum depression (including postpartum depression ) can occur in the first two years after birth. Features of the PPD include guilt, sadness, feelings of emptiness, fears, as well as the doubts of not being able to love one's own child. The postpartum depression is caused by the many changes after the birth of the baby. The doctor tells the patient when and if it is necessary to intervene with medication.

In a manic depression, also known as bipolar affective disorder, the mood of the patient can be aptly described in the words of a Goethe poem "Heaven-high, saddened to death". The manic-depressive patient experiences strong mood swings, in one moment he is euphoric and full of energy, shortly thereafter he experiences a strong phase of sadness, heaviness and depression, often involving suicidal thoughts. In the high phase (mania), it can sometimes come to dangerous self-overestimation and loss of reality.

Seasonal depression is also known as winter blues. Concerned people feel limp in the cold season, impotent and tired, you lack the sunlight. Striking is the increased appetite for carbohydrates and sweets or the complete opposite, namely loss of appetite. Seasonal depression is best counteracted by sports and occasional tanning visits. Light and movement release happiness hormones, which quickly restore a better mood. In foods such as nuts, fish, meat and cheese, the protein building block contains tryptophan, which forms the happiness hormone serotonin and brightens our mood.

Some women know them only too well and have to deal with the annoying side effects of the monthly period, the cycle-dependent depression (also called premenstrual depression) . In addition to physical complaints such as headache or chest pain, affected feel depressed shortly before entering their period, easily irritable, unfocused or even anxious and tense. A few days after the onset of menstruation, the symptoms have completely disappeared again.

Are you looking for contact with other victims or relatives? In the online forum of the German Depressionshilfe you have the opportunity to exchange views.

Source: Stiftung Deutsche Depressionshilfe

In our self-check you can already find out a tendency. Do the test here: Do I suffer from depression?

Book tip: The book by Ulrich Hegerl and Svenja Niescken provides facts on the development and treatment of the disease: "coping with depression: rediscovering the joy of life" (Trias, 19.95 euros)