The alarm clock rings and immediately the always recurring thoughts force themselves: What is all this for?? Why should I get up. Torturing myself once again through my everyday life? But it is not only the fear of what is about to happen that takes away the strength to stand up. Power tends to be non-existent anyway. Showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed – a single struggle against which body and mind resist. Everything is exhausting, senseless. Driving to school, studying, doing homework – the list gets longer and longer. It feels as if this life wants to fight me and bring me to my knees. It is a struggle between wanting to function. Not-being-able-to-function. This life no longer seems to represent anything else: I walk through this life on robot legs and somehow no longer belong to this world. As if all happiness has disappeared from my life, from my past, my present and my future. Hope that it will be different again, there is not. I'm trapped inside myself, my heart is a prisoner of a rib cage.
Approximately in four to five million people in Germany, these feelings are a daily companion, because they suffer from depression. This puts depression in first place among mental illnesses, in fourth place among all physical ailments, and it has now emerged as a widespread German disease. Despair, hopelessness, invincible gloom – a clinical picture that not infrequently leads to suicide. About 9.000 people in Germany die by suicide every year. The trend is unfortunately upwards. But how does depression develop, how is it detected and treated, and what is the best way for a family member to deal with the sufferer??
Causes of depression
First of all, it is necessary to clarify the question why especially people who live in industrialized countries suffer from depression. One reason that immediately catches the eye is the often overwhelming pressure to perform. In the elementary school the usability of the human being begins. You are rated and categorized based on the service you provide. Teachers form an impression of their students within four years and make recommendations for secondary schools in many German states. There the pressure increases, because of course a good future can only be ensured by getting good grades and progressing as far as possible in your school career. Education or study follows and no matter which path you take, you are overwhelmed by tasks, demands, requirements…
Taking into account that there are many people who are sensitive to those very things, it is not surprising that they suffer from depression or burn-out in the course of their lives. This also concerns us at The bird's new nest from a sustainability perspective. Because sustainability is not only important for the environment – we humans also have to choose sustainable ways for ourselves in the long run: Our choices, our jobs, our lifestyles. When you suffer from depression in your life, you are automatically confronted with questioning your past life path: Did I make the right choices? Have I acted in a sustainable way, that is, with my own future in mind?? In addition, the causes of each individual illness are just as individual as the person himself who is ill.
In psychological medicine, a distinction is made between endogenous, organic, neurotic and reactive depression:
This type of depression is due to brain metabolism, or its malfunctioning. The function of the brain and thus of the whole body is ensured by many hormones. The smallest changes in this metabolism can have major consequences. If, for example, the substance serotonin is not present in the brain in sufficient quantities, depression can be the result.
As the name suggests, this type is rooted in the malfunction of an organ, usually the thyroid gland. In the case of organic changes, the entire organism is affected. In the case of a malfunction of the thyroid gland, this has a great impact on the mind, as the gland secretes important hormones for the body. For example, common side effects of hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's disease are depression.
It is sufficiently known today that especially the early childhood relationship with the parents is of formative importance. However, if these relationships have a detrimental effect on the child, in that the child learns behaviors that are not beneficial to the psyche, then these will continue to have a long-term effect on the person in adulthood. For example, in patterns of relationship anxiety, fear of loss, or weak self-esteem. It is not uncommon for these people to suffer from depression, in this case neurotic depression.
In this case, depression is a reaction to acute life situations. This can be a divorce, the loss of a job, death in the family circle or even a car accident.
However, the type or cause of depression cannot be clearly determined. In most cases, mixed forms of the above-mentioned forms occur. In addition, it is not yet possible to determine depression by means of laboratory tests, so that the diagnosis is made solely through communication between the patient and the therapist.
I think I have depression – What should I do now??
Here, too, as with any other illness, the first step is to go to the family doctor. This can give information about local psychiatrists, neurologists and psychotherapists and provide a referral. As a next step, it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist or neurologist. Whether it is necessary to prescribe medication – so-called antidepressants – can only be determined here. Depending on where the depression originates, you should also not shy away from seeing a psychotherapist. It should be mentioned here, however, that therapy places are extremely rare, so that waiting times of six to twelve months are not uncommon. However, there is a possibility to get reimbursed if you can prove to your health insurance that there are no free therapy places available in your town. It is worthwhile to do some research on this at the relevant health insurance company.
Since it is very important for a psychotherapeutic treatment that one can speak openly and also analyze in detail such things which may be unpleasant for oneself, one is guaranteed five familiarization hours as a patient by his health insurance. This means that you have a period of five sessions with each psychotherapist to determine if they meet your expectations and you can imagine working with them on your problems. For this, not only trust is important, but also that the chemistry is right.
How to deal with someone who has depression?
It is important for family members to know that the changes in their loved one that they have noticed in the past time are symptoms of the disease. Many depressed people withdraw and isolate themselves completely from acquaintances, friends and family members. This is not due to the fact that they are no longer interested in maintaining their contacts, but only because they lack the strength to do so due to their depression. A depressed person fights day in and day out against himself, his everyday life, his lack of perspective and his entire life, which is extremely draining. This is accompanied by the fact that he is unable to muster the strength or joy for all the things that have always given him pleasure.
As a family member, you should know that you can't do anything about this illness on your own. It belongs in professional hands! Support can still be offered, for example by showing that the depressed person can be sure of his friends and family, that he will not be alone even in difficult times. With well-intentioned advice, one should be aware that a person who is going through a depression will neither recognize nor be able to implement it.
It is not uncommon for relatives to feel that they themselves need support because they do not know how to deal with the patient. In this case, it would be worth considering going to a group for relatives of mentally ill people. Here, the focus is on the exchange of information about dealing with patients and the disease, and one can express one's problems and concerns and receive constructive assistance from like-minded people.