General

Depression can have many causes and manifests itself slightly differently in each patient. The severity of depression also varies greatly from patient to patient. A distinction is made between mild, moderate and severe depression. In order to recognize the signs of depression, the help of the relatives is often needed, as they are often the first to notice that it is not a simple disgruntlement, but a fulminant depression that requires medical help.

Signs of depression

There are various symptoms or early signs that can be used to identify depression. These symptoms are initially very inconspicuous and it is difficult for the patient to distinguish whether he is suffering from depression or whether it is a short-term period in which the patient is simply a little sad or upset.
However, if certain signs appear over a longer period of time, these can be seen as guidelines that make it possible to recognize depression. At what point a depression counts as depression is very difficult to say and sometimes not easy to determine, even for trained psychiatrists.

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To recognize depression, the patient must take care of himself and deal critically with himself. The first sign is the loss of all interests. Outsiders in particular often recognize the depression of a relative patient from the fact that the patient withdraws more and more, cancels appointments and prefers to spend the time alone at home.

Calls are also made less often and contacts are lost. The patients often do not even notice that they are withdrawing further and further and renouncing all appointments or hobbies. Nevertheless, this withdrawal and the failure to take care of interests is an important sign to recognize depression. In addition to this "Shy of people“However, there are many other symptoms that indicate depression and make it easy for the patient and relatives to recognize the depression.

Loss of pleasure or fun in sexual intercourse (Loss of libido) and the loss of enjoyment of general family life are important indicators of depression. In addition to this loss of interest (Anhedonia) there is also a great sadness or emptiness.

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The patient cannot get up to anything and sometimes begins to cry for no apparent reason. Other patients report that during their depression they are completely empty and emotionally cold and cannot allow or perceive any emotions. This inner emptiness or inner sadness is also an important guiding symptom.

In addition, the patients sleep very often, but in other cases the patient may also have sleep disorders. Both symptoms can be indicative of depression, with most patients spending a great deal of time in bed and lacking any drive to get out of bed. In order to recognize depression, it is also important to pay attention to a patient's daily routine. Usually this is very disturbed by the enormous sleep time and the patients lose their day-night rhythm.

In addition, there is often major weight loss as patients forget to eat or simply cannot go to the supermarket to buy something to eat. This feeling of listlessness is an important symptom which can indicate depression and serves as a clear indicator for the patient or the relatives.

In order to recognize depression, it is also important to see how well the patient can concentrate and to what extent he is still attentive to other people or to the environment. Often the patient no longer has any self-confidence or self-confidence.

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In addition, there is often a feeling of guilt, which can relate to a wide variety of situations or moments and is often not rational at all. However, this can be a heavy burden on the patient and make them feel completely worthless.

Much more typical, however, is the sign that patients only view the entire future as negative and cannot imagine that the patient will ever have good times again. This pessimism is a typical sign of depression. In the worst case, this can even lead to suicidal thoughts. These suicidal thoughts are the final warning sign of depression and require immediate and urgent psychotherapeutic help and attention.

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Read more on the subject under: How can you recognize depression?

What are typical signs in women?

The main symptoms that are present in every depressed patient are the same for both sexes and in all age groups. How exactly the first signs of these symptoms are expressed and to what extent further symptoms occur, however, varies greatly between the individual patients due to a variety of factors. Gender is one of the most important influences. Gender-specific differences in depression, especially at the beginning of the disease, are relevant because they enable early diagnosis and treatment. Today, significantly more women than men are diagnosed and treated with depression. It is not entirely clear whether women really develop depression that much more often than men, or whether they are simply discovered more often because they show incipient symptoms more clearly.

These first signs of depression include, for example, an increasing deterioration in mood, which can be expressed, among other things, in increased irritability. The women become snappy, look pessimistic about the future and are difficult to motivate, fears and worries become more important for those affected. This bad mood is not uncommon for many women, but it becomes suspicious if it lasts for several weeks.

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Physical symptoms also appear at the very beginning of a depression, above all sleep disorders and loss of appetite, but also unspecific complaints such as headaches or abdominal pain. During the day, the patients experience a rapid fatigue, feel sleepy and unstable. Focusing becomes difficult, completing tasks seems impossible. Thoughts often revolve around negative topics, large parts of the day are spent brooding. The libido also decreases and tension can arise in the relationship.

All of these signs are common to both sexes, but are usually easier to spot in women. There are many reasons for this, for example the hormonal cycle that exacerbates such symptoms, or the social role model in which women are better able to express these complaints. Having mental health problems is more associated with women than men in today's society. Thus, women not only show typical signs more often, it is also more likely that they are depressed.

These symptoms can also be found in bipolar disorder. To be confused about whether or not it is a bipolar disorder, read also: What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

What are typical signs in men?

Depressed men have the same symptoms as depressed women, but show them differently. They too lack the drive, they are listless and can hardly get excited about anything. Like women, they suffer from sleep problems, are tired and inefficient during the day and ponder for hours about the future and current problems. However, in many cases it is more difficult for them to talk about these complaints. Often they do not even perceive these symptoms as such, but rather blame the stress at work for the restlessness and negative mood and do not think about them any further at first. The symptoms are therefore usually initially untypical.

Men also use compensatory drugs such as alcohol more often than women to escape the symptoms. The onset of depression can therefore look very different in men and like to hide behind other symptoms. New or increased behavior, such as increased aggressiveness and outbursts of anger, increased alcohol consumption, severe irritability or particularly risky behavior, can be signs of depression. The poor performance that usually goes hand in hand with the disease is more often compensated for in men with increased zeal for work or an unhealthy amount of sport, while women tend to take it easy and try to recover. Instead of withdrawing, many men choose to flee forward. This hides the symptoms on the one hand and worsens the depression on the other hand, as the pressure and stress increase as a result.

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In our society, men are under even greater pressure to perform than women, and depression is a sign of weakness for many. The symptoms of the disease give them a feeling of helplessness, which they try to escape with extreme actions. It is therefore much more difficult to identify early signs of depression in men. This also explains why the number of sick people adjusts again with increasing severity of the depression in both sexes, if the symptoms are clear and men also see a doctor, while significantly more women are treated for mild depression.

Find out more about the topic here: Aggression in depression.

What are the typical signs of postpartum depression?

Postnatal depression, also known as postnatal depression, occurs in many new mothers in the first few weeks to months after the baby is born. This is not the general low mood that occurs in almost all women and is known as "baby blues", as this is due to the hormonal chaos and stress caused by childbirth and which dissolves again after a few days to weeks. If this mood persists for more than a week, however, a real depression may have developed. Even if no symptoms are initially apparent, postnatal depression is still possible many months after the birth. The entire first year after the child is born is therefore a vulnerable time for women.

The first signs of this illness could be persistent frustration or excessive demands on the child and also loss of appetite, sleep and concentration disorders as well as a general mood and lack of interest. The young mothers are often tired, exhausted and underperforming. They also develop feelings of guilt because they love their child but can hardly enjoy them. These symptoms usually come insidiously and are not infrequently suppressed for the first time, as society believes that a mother has to be happy about a newborn child and does not admit the first signs. It would therefore be advantageous to provide information about the pregnancy and to observe the woman after the birth.

Read more on the subject at: Postpartum Depression

sleep disorders

Sleep problems are the most common accompanying symptom of depression and usually appear very early. Those affected usually notice this earlier than the actual depression, the main symptoms of which initially go unnoticed and are suppressed or compensated for. The exact nature of the sleep problems varies from patient to patient. Some cannot fall asleep, others cannot sleep through the night. Many report that they wake up at night or early in the morning and cannot sleep again because of all the brooding and worries. Even when the body is tired and exhausted, the negative circles of thought do not leave the person concerned.

Of course, not every sleep disorder is an expression of depression, as sleep behavior can be affected by many factors. This is why many patients are given sleeping pills when they present to the doctor because of the problem instead of being tested for depression as the cause. However, if the sleep disorder persists, if the patient is permanently dependent on medication or if further symptoms occur, a clarification is very advisable, because then it could be the first sign of depression.

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Read more on the subject at: sleep disorders

What are typical signs of relapse?

Depression occurs intermittently. This means that the symptoms will eventually go away without medication, but in most cases they will come back. Relapse is therefore not the exception, but the rule if there is no adequate therapy. If you suffer a relapse despite treatment, this should be recognized as early as possible in order to change the therapy.

The first signs of a recurrence of depression are primarily the symptoms that the patient is already familiar with from the previous phase of the illness. These include, for example, insomnia, loss of appetite, an increasingly low mood and a lack of interest and joyless even for things that are otherwise fun. Difficulty concentrating, physical symptoms (e.g. pain, gastrointestinal complaints) or inner restlessness and fear can also herald the return of depression. Some patients experience slowness in their thinking and have trouble making decisions. Other patients simply describe a general malaise as the first sign.

The symptoms of a relapse are as individual as the depression itself. Each patient has their own personal complaints. They can serve as an early warning sign to actively counter the relapse.

What can be signs of depression in adolescence?

Unfortunately, depression in adolescents is more common than previously thought. The overall picture of the illness with depressed mood and lack of interest and drive is similar to that of an adult, but the first signs of depression in young people often look slightly different. Recognizing them is not easy, as mood swings, motivation problems and other symptoms of depression during puberty are not uncommon, even in healthy people.

They only become suspicious if they persist over a longer period of time, the teenager gets lost more and more in negative spirals of thought and brooding and can no longer really get excited about things that are important at this age. In addition to this low mood, a decline in school performance or social withdrawal can be signs of depression. Alcohol and drug consumption can also be the beginning of the disease. Conflict and impulsiveness that many families struggle with are not, however, early warning signs. Only when the young person withdraws more and more instead of expressing his or her feelings should attention be paid to further symptoms of depression.

What can be signs of depression after a breakup?

Feeling down after a breakup is a perfectly normal and necessary response. The grief is important to be able to process the end of the relationship, and in the body and in the brain many subconscious biological processes take place in response to the breakup. Many symptoms of this lovesickness therefore coincide with those of depression, but are usually only temporary and a completely normal part of a breakup.

If the symptoms persist, however, i.e. if the typical symptoms of depression show up over several weeks, the heartache can have turned into depression. Signs of this are not the symptoms themselves, as these also occur in healthy people after a breakup, but rather the intensity of these complaints and their course over time. In the case of depression, joylessness persists, physical symptoms (e.g. sleep and concentration disorders, loss of appetite) appear or worsen. Even several weeks after the separation, the person feels no joy, ponders for hours and, in the worst case, has suicidal thoughts. With such a course and the occurrence of other accompanying symptoms, depression is therefore likely.

Division into stages

Recognizing signs of depression is not always easy, depending on the severity, and it is not equally easy for patient and family member. It is therefore important to see a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist so that they can provide the patient with adequate therapy, depending on the severity of the depression.

In order as a patient to control for themselves how severely one is affected by the depression, there are, however, some clues that can be used as a guide. However, these clues are not a substitute for professional analysis by a psychiatrist. In order to recognize depression and to view it as depression and not as a brief mood, it is important that patients have the negative symptoms for at least 14 days.

There are several main symptoms that must appear for at least 14 days at a time. The main symptoms include deep sadness, loss of interest and a lack of energy.

In addition, there are many side symptoms. These include decreased concentration, decreased self-esteem, the feeling of guilt and worthlessness, future hopelessness, insomnia and suicidal thoughts.

Burnout syndrome is often the precursor to depression. Read more about this under: Depression or Burnout - What do I have?

In order to recognize from all these symptoms how severe the depression is, you need the knowledgeable help of a doctor or psychologist. According to the so-called ICD-10 regulations, a patient suffers from one

  • mild depression if it has 2 main symptoms and 2 secondary symptoms, below one
  • Moderate depression if it has 2 main symptoms and 3-4 minor symptoms and less than one
  • severe depression if it has all 3 main symptoms and 3-4 minor symptoms.

However, this exact differentiation is of secondary importance for the patient at the beginning. It is more important to recognize depression and to recognize it as a serious mental illness. Because depression also requires medical help. It is therefore important that the person concerned or the patient himself recognize the depression and act so that it does not become more solidified and last longer (chronified).

To learn about the types of depression, click here.


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