What are the Symptoms of Lethargy

Depression: symptoms and forms

Depression can cause different symptoms. Drained, unfocused and without energy - this is how many patients feel. What used to be easy is now difficult

What are Signs of Depression?

Even if a depression can usually be traced back to a bundle of individually interacting causes and can express itself just as diverse, there are still some very characteristic signs: for example, the feeling of being unable to feel anything, lack of courage, joy, drive and power to be. Everything that used to be fun suddenly seems meaningless, even simple activities are perceived as exhausting.

What those affected say

The voices of those affected best express what the disease feels like:

"I'm just exhausted and overwhelmed, everything is difficult. In the morning I'm already exhausted and would prefer not to get up at all."

"My head was so empty and I wasn't enjoying anything anymore. Life seemed so pointless."

"I no longer have any self-confidence. I feel like I'm useless and it's getting worse every day, also because I can't do anything about it."

"I haven't been able to sleep at night for weeks. Or I wake up much too early and just brood."

The majority of patients experience depression in its monopolar or unipolar form. About one percent of adult Germans suffer from the bipolar form - formerly known as manic-depressive illness.

Unipolar (monopolar) depression

In its unipolar or monopolar form, which affects two-thirds of all sufferers, depression usually manifests itself through signs such as these:

Inner emptiness - Central is a basic feeling of deep depression, sadness and often inner emptiness. Depression sufferers feel completely discouraged and hopeless and lose the joy of things that are normally perceived as pleasant. (This is how the disease name "depression" is explained - it is derived from the Latin word depressed = press down).

Loss of energy - All in all, those affected have little energy and little determination, even everyday tasks and simple decisions are difficult for them. The ability to concentrate is also reduced, so that they usually experience activities as very strenuous and overwhelming, which were easy to manage before the illness.

Self-doubt - This leads to a severe loss of self-confidence and massive feelings of guilt and inferiority. These can increase to the point of the delusion that one's own illness is a punishment for past misconduct.

fears - Anxiety, thoughts about your own death or suicide (suicide) also occur in more serious cases.

Physical signs are massive sleep disorders, loss or increase in appetite, loss of libido (decreased sexual desire), physical restlessness or lethargy. As well as often diffuse stomach, head and back pain, dizziness or tightness in the chest, for which the doctor cannot find any organic causes.

When the depression hits the body

Depression can be behind physical complaints such as back pain, headache or tinnitus ...

Bipolar depression

The bipolar form of depression, also called manic-depressive illness, is characterized by a more or less rapid and frequent change between very different phases of the illness. In depressive phases, those affected suffer from symptoms that are typical of the monopolar form of depression (see above). Often the lack of drive is in the foreground. The so-called manic phases express themselves in a quasi contrary way:

  • Frequent symptoms are a strong euphoric (high) mood, an "exuberant" cheerfulness and a high level of energy that is inappropriate for the situation, but often excessive irritability and even aggressiveness.
  • Those affected have an unstoppable need to speak. They speak very quickly, their thoughts are fleeting, they are easily distracted and massively overestimate their own performance.
  • Often there is a loss of control with regard to the handling of money or contracts, negative consequences of planning are not considered.
  • Delusions, for example thoughts of being something special (sense of mission, greatness ideas) or the feeling of being directed from outside, or hallucinations such as hearing voices, can occur during a manic episode.

In Germany around 800,000 people are affected by manic-depressive illness. In most patients, the transition from a depressive to a manic phase occurs gradually. But sometimes it also supposedly happens overnight.

How long do the phases last? While manic phases often only last for a few weeks or months if left untreated, untreated depressive episodes often last significantly longer. In individual cases, if the illness lasts longer than two years, one speaks of persistent, chronic depression - but that does not mean that no help is possible!

The change between the phases is a great burden for those affected and their social environment. The risk of suicide attempts and addictions is particularly high in people with manic-depressive disorders. Rapid diagnosis and therapy are all the more important.