Depression is a common problem. Some 8% of all the people in Europe are currently suffering from depression or depressive disorder. One in five will suffer from depression at least once in their lives. Untreated depression raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and increases their mortality rate. Every year more than 11,000 people in Germany take their own lives because of depression. Depression is one of the most costly diseases around the world. The WHO estimates the annual cost of sickness due to depression and anxiety disorders to be around a billion euros.
Depression manifests itself primarily through a lack of zest for life, decreased self-esteem, sleep disorders, loss of drive, concentration and attention disorders, lack of appetite, a feeling of futility, loss of libido, and pain. Since some forms of depression manifest themselves primarily thorough physical ailments, they are often perceived and treated too late.
Anyone can be affected by depression. There are probably genetic causes and an increased risk due to life events, especially in very early childhood. Triggers are usually insults, disappointment and experiences of loss.
You can check here whether you might have depression, and how severe it is:
- subdued, gloomy mood
- loss of interest, joylessness
- lack of drive, increased fatigue
- reduced concentration and attention
- diminished sense of self-worth and self-confidence
- feelings of guilt and futility
- negative and pessimistic perspective of the future
- suicidal thoughts and actions
- disturbed sleep
- reduced appetite
If symptoms have persisted for more than two weeks, it is an indication of
- 2 main- + 2 secondary symptoms mild depression
- 2 main- + 3-4 secondary symptoms moderate depression
- 3 main- + > 4 secondary symptoms severe depression
Caution: these are only indications! A diagnosis of depression cannot be made solely by answering these questions. If there is a suspicion of depression, consult us or your own doctor or psychotherapist.
In Europe, depression is generally only treated pharmacologically, and sometimes also therapeutically. Treatment with anti-depressives does not lead to success with every patient, and often has unpleasant side-effects. It requires regular intake of medication over a long period of time; any improvement will not be observed before the medication has been taken for at least two to three weeks. Side effects such as disturbed sleep, nervousness, weight gain or sexual disorders often lead to the medication not being taken, or only being taken at irregular intervals. Psychotherapy usually helps just as much, or even more, and the effect is more sustainable than with anti-depressants. In cases of severe depression, however, the memory and attention are reduced, which makes psychotherapy difficult. And psychotherapy, particularly at the beginning, must be carried out with great intensity, which is not possible on an out-patient basis. Physical activity has a significant anti-depressive effect; depressive patients can, however, often only be motivated with difficulty.
A few years ago there was a breakthrough in the treatment of depression with the use of ketamine infusions. In most cases these improve depressive symptoms instantly and suicidal thoughts disappear. In order to achieve a greater level of sustainability, ketamine therapy should always be combined with psychotherapy or other treatment methods. Unlike with traditional anti-depressant medication treatment, no long-term blood levels need to be maintained. After an infusion the substance is metabolised within a few hours, but the effect persists. Usually only a few infusions are required, at intervals of one or two days. Intensive psychotherapy should be started at the same time.
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