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Diagnosis of depression: answers to the 10 most important questions

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Diagnosis of depression: answers to the 10 most important questions

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 322 million people worldwide are affected by depression. In Germany there are around five million, although the number of unreported cases is likely to be large.

“This complex mental disorder has a significant impact on daily life and continues to be greatly underestimated in terms of its severity,” explains Petra Beschoner, specialist in psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychosomatic medicine and medical director of the Bad Saulgau acute clinic, and emphasizes: “Information is crucial “Reducing stigma, enabling early diagnosis and providing appropriate support.” The most important questions.

1. What are the signs of depression?

Petra Beschoner: Symptoms of depression can be varied and are mainly characterized by depression, listlessness and loss of interest. Other signs such as sleep disorders, concentration problems, feelings of guilt or worthlessness and reduced self-confidence also occur. In severe cases also suicidality. In addition, those affected often report physical complaints such as stomach problems, headaches, back pain or tinnitus.

2. When does one speak of depression?

Cleaner: We speak of depression if at least two of the main symptoms such as depressed mood, loss of interest or joy and loss of drive are present over a period of at least two weeks, as well as at least two of the so-called secondary symptoms, which include difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, sleep disorders, feelings of worthlessness or excessive feelings of guilt , problems concentrating and thoughts of death or suicide.

But not every depressed mood, such as that which can occur in the event of a bereavement, is depression. In order to reliably identify disorders that require treatment, an extensive psychological assessment and a detailed doctor-patient discussion are carried out.

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3. How can relatives help someone suffering from depression?

Cleaner: As with all serious illnesses, in this case, relatives should seek medical advice and find out more about the illness, for example via the online pages of the German Depression League or the German Depression Aid Foundation. These offer low-threshold access to information, experience reports and the opportunity to exchange information anonymously with other depressed people.

In the next step, relatives can arrange a visit to the doctor and offer to accompany those affected. However, patience is required because offers of help are often rejected. Sometimes it takes time and sensitive persistence for your loved one to seek professional help.

Important: Show the affected people again and again that you are there for them and signal your willingness to talk without pushing them. Do not turn away from the sick person, even if it is difficult, and take good care of yourself in all of this.

4. Is there such a thing as winter depression?

Cleaner: Yes, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that typically occurs in the winter months when the days are shorter and there is less sunlight. Practical tips for coping may include using daylight lamps, regular exercise and maintaining social contacts.

5. How is depression treated?

Cleaner: Treatment usually includes a combination of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or depth psychology therapy, pharmacotherapy with antidepressants and, if necessary, light or exercise therapy. An individual treatment plan is often drawn up in consultation with a specialist.

6. Can depression be cured?

Cleaner: In most cases, depression is treatable and many people recover completely. However, the chances of recovery depend on various factors, including early diagnosis, severity of depression, treatment accessibility, and individual response to therapy. However, there is a risk that depression can return. Statistically speaking, this is the case for around half of all those affected.

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7. Are antidepressants addictive?

Cleaner: Antidepressants are generally not addictive, but they can cause withdrawal symptoms if they are suddenly stopped. It is therefore advisable to only take antidepressants as prescribed by a doctor and to taper them off according to medical advice.

8. Where can those affected find help?

Cleaner: The family doctor is generally the first point of contact. This person can refer those affected to a specialist or psychological psychotherapist. Those affected can also contact a specialist or therapist directly. They can also find helpful approaches at advice centers, self-help groups and crisis hotlines. Online resources and apps can also provide supportive information and tools.

9. Does health insurance cover the costs of treatment?

Cleaner: Statutory health insurance companies cover the costs of treating depression. With private health insurance, however, it is advisable to clarify the coverage and possible deductibles in advance.

10. Does the employer have to be informed about the diagnosis?

Cleaner: Disclosing your diagnosis to your employer is a personal decision. However, in some cases it may be beneficial to inform the employer in order to obtain workplace support and, if necessary, make appropriate adjustments to improve work efficiency and minimize one’s own risk of relapse.

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