Signs of depression: How do I deal with them?

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Signs of depression: How do I deal with them?

The dark season, recurring bad news in the media, worries about the private and professional future: all this can have an effect on our mood. But how can you tell if it's a "normal" little low or if you already have signs of a serious depression? We'll give you an initial overview of this disorder and help you to classify your symptoms.

What is depression?

This is probably not the first time you've heard about depression in this article - and that's not surprising. After all, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. In Germany, estimates suggest that about five percent of the population is affected, or about 4 million people. So if 20 people are standing in a room, statistically at least one person has depression.

Depression manifests itself somewhat differently in each person, which is why it is not at all easy to describe the clinical picture precisely. The DSM diagnostic catalog provides a good picture of what depression can look like. It defines characteristics for all mental illnesses, which can be used to assess whether an illness is present or not.

Major depression according to DSM

For classic depression, the DSM names nine symptoms, five of which must be present for the disorder to be diagnosed:

  1. Depressed mood, and almost all day long
  2. Decreased interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities
  3. Changed appetite with weight increase or decrease
  4. Change in sleep behavior (Sleep disturbance or increased sleep)
  5. Restlessness or slowing down
  6. Tiredness, lack of energy
  7. Feeling, worthless to be or exaggerated Guilt
  8. Interference the Ability to think or concentrate
  9. Repeated Thoughts about deathsuch as suicidal thoughts or planning one's own suicide.

In order to speak of a depression, point 1 or point 2 must be fulfilled, i.e. either depressed mood or loss of joy or interest must be present. In addition, the symptoms must exist on almost all days for at least two weeks.

In addition to these nine signs of depression, the illness can also be accompanied by many other complaints. For example, many people have physical signs, such as pain or a feeling of pressure on the chest. Sometimes these physical symptoms can even be in the foreground. Often, depression also goes hand in hand with Fears or panic. In rarer cases, delusions may also occur in the context of depression.

depression signs

Signs depression: Causes of depression

Regardless of how many of the above symptoms are present in your case, you may now be wondering why some people develop depression in the first place, while others do not. This is a good question that has not yet been fully answered.

According to current knowledge, a multifactorial model seems most likely for the development of depression. This means that several factors must come together for a person to develop depression.

One's own vulnerability

People who develop depression presumably have a lower resistance to various stresses. This so-called higher "vulnerability" can be genetic, for example, if many people in the family also have depressive illnesses. One's own childhood also plays a role if, for example, the relationship with the parents was disturbed or the parents had a very anxious, overprotective approach to the environment. In addition, there seem to be people who are simply more melancholic in character than others and are therefore more likely to suffer from depression. depressive mood tend.

Stress factors

If a person with a higher vulnerability is exposed to stress, depression can occur. Depending on how vulnerable someone is, different degrees of stress are necessary for this. Anything that triggers stress can act as a trigger for depression. This can be, for example, a great everyday stress that leads to depression after a certain duration. Often, a depressive illness also develops after dramatic life events, such as a divorce, the death of a loved one or the diagnosis of a serious illness.

The role of neurotransmitters in the brain

Many studies have been able to show that people with depression have an altered Concentration of the neurotransmitters in the brain. For example, serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, which are responsible for Feelings of happiness and activity are out of balance in those affected. This is where some antidepressants come in, whose mode of action regulates the concentration of neurotransmitters.

The extent to which the changes in neurotransmitters are a symptom or a cause of depression is not yet fully understood.

Know your own causes

Knowing what factors led to your own depression can be very helpful. While there is not much you can do about your genetic makeup or childhood, knowing the causes may, negative beliefs or deal with their own weaknesses a little more graciously. And those who know which stress factors have led to the illness can organize their everyday life differently and avoid or minimize stressors.

Taking a superior position and looking at yourself objectively is not easy. A Coaching or therapy can be a helpful way to find the causes that led to the signs of depression.

Signs of depression: early warning system

You don't have all the criteria for depression, but you're still not really feeling well? Depression is often preceded by a number of early signs. These are quite unspecific, so they can also be warning signs of other illnesses. They can occur for no apparent reason or after a stressful event, develop slowly or suddenly appear overnight.

In many people, the mood is already depressed and the drive is reduced in the run-up to manifest depression. They feel listless, are irritable or anxious, and have sleep and appetite disturbances. They often also report non-specific pain, for example in the head or chest.


Not everyone who has a depressed mood or often feels tired and listless really has depression. A diagnostic catalog such as the DSM can give you an initial assessment of whether you really have a depressive disorder.

If you think you might be affected, you should always seek medical advice, for example from a therapist or your family doctor. Since some physical illnesses also cause depressive symptoms, a physical examination is a standard procedure. For example, there could be an underactive thyroid gland - or an iron deficiency. To find out, a blood count is done first, before depression is treated in any other way.

Prevention of depression

Of course, it is best if depression does not develop in the first place. Even if you are already showing the first early signs of exhaustion or a bad mood, it is a good time to pause and possibly take countermeasures. That's why it makes sense in every phase of life to take good care of yourself in order to notice how you're actually feeling right now. In our hectic everyday life, this is not always a matter of course.

Another factor in preventing depression is the activation of our own resources, i.e. all the protective factors that help us cope with our stressors. This can be anything that helps to reduce stress and relax us, such as Sports, meditation or targeted relaxation measures.

In addition to general health promotion, specific techniques can be learned to strengthen protective factors for depression. In Coachings or courses can be, for example, strategies for stress management, problem-solving techniques or mindfulness courses.

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