According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression, four million of them in Germany. Depression is often closed to outsiders. That is the essence of the disease: First of all, all people feel depressed from time to time, see their surroundings through dark glasses and say "I am depressed" and consider depressed people only for people who "feel bad".
The withdrawal of the sick
Second, the more the disease gets worse, the more invisible it becomes. Depressed people perceive themselves as a burden on their environment. They have no meaning in life, with chronic depression they lose hope and not a few kill themselves. They totally isolate themselves from the outside world.
As strange as it sounds: His friends do not notice that a depressed person is in a dangerous phase by the fact that he is failing towards them, but by the fact that he is "disappearing": he does not answer, does not answer the phone, his apartment is on fire no light.
Danger of death
Not taking clinical depression seriously can be fatal. Outsiders think that those affected are just like themselves. They are in a “bad mood” because not everything works in life.
But the sick lose not only the desire to live, but also the will to live. WHO estimates that suicide and suicide from depression will be the second leading cause of death in 2020 in the world.
Every tenth kills itself
The danger of the proportion of suicides among the depressed becomes clear: Around 15% of people with severe depression commit suicide. Every second person tries to commit suicide at least once in a lifetime.
A common illness
Every 20th person between the ages of 18 and 65 in Germany is so depressed that he or she is being treated. That is 3.1 million people. In addition, there are those who are not covered and who do not seek treatment, and the elderly and younger who also suffer from the disease.
No subjective feeling
Lay people often make the mistake of thinking that depression is a subjective feeling for those affected. However, the disease has an objective effect on the organism: In contrast to normal reluctance, depressive disorders first show up through physical complaints. This includes lack of sexual interest, insomnia and poor appetite.
But this also includes severe pain in the gastrointestinal area, dizziness and chronic fatigue.
Risk of confusion
Depressive diseases in the clinical field can therefore be confused in two ways. On the one hand, both affected and outsiders see the physical symptoms and suspect other causes than depression: iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency or flu infections are sometimes similar.
On the other hand, however, they see the psychological problems as a result of the physical symptoms: Lack of sleep leads to depression, pessimism comes from chronic exhaustion or reluctance to eat.
The patient himself, unfortunately, in his hopelessness, is the last one who could articulate what is cause and what is effect.
Sorry for no reason
How can outsiders recognize depression?
Depression shows up as grief without a recognizable trigger, which is often emphasized by those affected. When I mourn because my boyfriend left me or my mother died, I am not depressed.
But when I say without pretending that I am satisfied with my environment and my social relationships, but at the same time fall into deep despair, it is me.
If I have been drunk at parties for two nights in a row and cannot get up in the morning and I am also mentally ill, I have a hangover. On the other hand, I am depressed when I cannot get up in the morning, feel paralyzed without having done my part.
Crying without knowing why, not believing the simplest tasks, feeling like an ice block is on your chest, fear of leaving the house - all of this characterizes depression.
Depression not only drives suicide, it also worsens overall health: lack of sleep, malnutrition and lack of exercise gnaw at the organism.
Other illnesses are aggravated by the simultaneous depression. While positive suggestions promote psychosomatic healing, depression means the opposite: diabetes mellitus and the condition after heart attacks are much more unfavorable if those affected suffer from depression.
The CEO of the German Depression Aid Prof. Dr. med. Ulrich Hegerl describes depression as “a common, severe but easily treatable illness”.
He does not give the all-clear: “Life expectancy is reduced by ten years and the level of suffering is higher than with almost all other diseases. It is a common, severe, mostly recurrent disease. ”
At the same time, he complains of a lack of knowledge, especially among employers. He advises sick people not to make any decisions during their depressive phases.
Hegerl differentiates depression from grief. Grief is a strong feeling. Depression, on the other hand, “not only can the patient no longer perceive joy, but no feelings at all, nor grief. The technical term is "feeling of numbness". People feel petrified inside. In addition, there is a permanent feeling of exhaustion and inner tension, comparable to the feeling before an exam. ”
The expert warns against attaching too much importance to external events: “The decisive factor is a disposition, genetically determined or also caused by traumas and experiences of abuse in early stages of life. If this disposition is pronounced, even minor occasions are enough - a little frustration, a little overwhelming situation to slip into a depression. Often, however, no concrete triggers can be identified. ”
This also applies to the myth of winter depression: the season without influence on depression also applies the other way round. People in depressive phases are no happier in sunshine than in November fog.
However, illnesses caused by trauma can go hand in hand with severe depression. These include, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder or borderline.
The underestimated disease
Clinical depression is not only one of the most common mental illnesses with serious physical consequences, but also the most underestimated. In Germany, on the one hand, this is due to a very "German" way of dealing with the problem: Depressed people are quickly considered "wimps" who "need a kick in the butt", which massively aggravates their suffering.
Secondly, the behavior of suicides is often seen as a trigger for suicide, but not clinical depression as the cause of this behavior: Those who have no work and no social contacts, who take drugs or get addicted to alcohol are then considered to be those who see no way out because he has no prospects. But if the reason for this lack of perspective was depression, this is often not recognized. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)