Symptoms of Depression: First Signs, Causes and Treatment

EVERYONE EXPERIENCES PERIODS OF BAD MOODS, LISTLESSNESS, SADNESS AND PERHAPS EVEN RANGE. Sometimes these feelings can even last several days. But at what point should this be considered a mental illness? This article looks at the symptoms of depression, potential triggers and treatment methods.

Depression is one of the most common mood disorders and can occur in any age group. It can turn your entire life upside and significantly restrict your personal and professional daily life.

For a very long time, depression, along with many other mental illnesses, was a taboo subject. But simply staying silent is far from helpful. One in five people in Switzerland will suffer from depression at least once in their lives. This makes it all the more important to talk about it often. You can’t always see it coming, but sometimes you can. The exact signs vary from person to person.


This mood disorder can fundamentally be viewed as a complex bundle of negative feelings. Which of these emotions will become noticeable is entirely individual. For some, it is expressed primarily as sadness and a great deal of crying. Others, by contrast, experience enormous rage and behave aggressively. Others again will even start to self-harm, or harbour thoughts of suicide.


It is important to get a handle on the depression as early as possible and not to relinquish control to it. The earlier a person with depression acknowledges that they are suffering from a mental illness and seeks help, the more successful the treatment will be.

Depressionen Symptome

Have your emotional and mental states changed dramatically, leaving you feeling like you are no longer yourself? This can be a sign of depression. The most commonly occurring symptoms include:

  • Despondency
  • Pessimism
  • Listlessness
  • Unexplained sadness or fear
  • Distancing yourself from your emotions

Of course, not everyone who experiences frequent sadness, rage or confusion is suffering from depression. It is important to recognise the difference between depression and a low period. If these feelings pass after a few days, it is mostly likely a low period. The salient emotions are sadness, fear, rage, exhaustion and poor self-esteem.


If this condition lasts longer than two weeks, it might be depression. The symptoms of a low period often include, amongst others, increased irritability and panic attacks. In severe cases, there may be an urge to self-harm.


There is a long list of possible symptoms of depression. They affect not only your mental and emotional state, but sometimes even your physical health. There are a huge number of accompanying symptoms that come to the fore and conceal the illness.


This is particularly the case where the main symptom of depression is physical pain. We should therefore look at some of the signs in more detail.

Symptoms of depression: insomnia and morning blues

Symptoms of depression: insomnia and morning blues

Many people have trouble getting to sleep. Work stress, important meetings or having difficult decisions to make can rob us of sleep. But all of this becomes far more intense for people with depression. They experience problems with not just falling asleep, but also sleeping through the night. They wake up long before the alarm goes off, lie awake for hours and ruminate.


Some people with depression even sleep far more than normal. They often lack the inner drive to get up and start a new successful day. This is sometimes referred to as the “morning blues”. As the day comes to a close, their mood often improves, and an evening high sets in. But come the next morning, another low point appears.

Loss of appetite, leading to weight loss

Whether you are hungry or not, you can always find room in your tummy for your favourite meal. But for people with depression, this is often not the case. Some even forget to eat sometimes, because they simply do not notice that they are hungry. This leads to weight loss.


However, the exact opposite can also be true. Some people with depression eat significantly more than normal and put on weight.

Physical pain without any organic cause

If someone is experiencing increasingly severe physical issues such as headaches, back aches or stomach aches, dizziness or heart palpitations, this is called a masked depression. The pains are so pronounced that they push the mental symptoms into the background, making them almost impossible to perceive.


If these types of pains were already present before the depression, they can become more intense during the depressive episode.

Negative thoughts and problems concentrating

People suffering from depression often see primarily the negative aspects of a situation. They can easily fall into ruminations lasting hours, leading to the current situation becoming hopeless in any case. This only further reinforces the negative thoughts, as does the assumption that there is no chance of any improvement.


These thoughts overshadow practically everything. This sometimes makes it impossible to concentrate on important matters. Even trivial conversations with colleagues can represent a challenge to their concentration. For some people with depression, this can be an enormous mental burden, because they worry that it could result from dementia or something similar.

Feelings of self-worth decrease, feelings of self-recrimination increase

Das Selbstwertgefühl sinkt, die Schuldgefühle steigen

Even people who have always had plenty of self-confidence can feel insecure and inferior during depressive episodes. They believe they simply cannot do anything, even if this is not at all true. They see their achievements as just strokes of luck and do not realise that they have done a good job thanks to their skills.


Depressive people tend to burden themselves with unfounded feelings of guilt. Regardless of the situation, it is rarely anyone else’s fault. Even if other people have undeniably made mistakes, they believe they could have acted better in order to save the situation. This significantly reinforces the feeling of low self-esteem.

Psychomotor retardations vs. agitation

Psychomotor retardations mainly occur as a symptom of a severe depression. People affected by it move and speak very slowly. Their facial expressions change very little and they come across as frozen. Outwardly, such people appear very quiet, almost too quiet, but inwardly they are in turmoil. They are experiencing enormous internal upheaval.


For others, the exact opposite is true. They feel restless and experience an unquenchable urge to be in motion. They often find it difficult to sit still, and they make frequent movements with no purpose. For example, they may swing their feet, drum on the table with their fingers, or fidget with their clothes.

Bei anderen Betroffenen ist wiederum genau das Gegenteil der Fall. Sie fühlen sich rastlos und sind einem unstillbaren Bewegungsdrang ausgesetzt. Es fällt ihnen sehr schwer, stillzusitzen, und sie führen häufig ziellose Bewegungen aus. Sie wippen beispielsweise mit dem Fuss klopfen mit den Fingern auf den Tisch oder zupfen sich an der Kleidung herum.

Unfounded fears and sudden fits of rage

Around 80% of those suffering from depression experience constantly recurring feelings of fear. They cannot clearly define what it is they are afraid of. Rather, they have a feeling of an unspecified threat. Most often, however, it is fear about the future.


It is also not rare for sudden, unfounded aggression to appear. Entirely innocuous things can provoke sudden rage.


There is an important point to note here. The appearance of several symptoms of the types mentioned above do not necessarily mean a person is experiencing depression. It is absolutely essential to seek the advice of an expert in order to get a clear diagnosis.

Possible causes for the symptoms of depression

Possible causes for the symptoms of depression

Just as the symptoms of depression can vary hugely, so too can the possible causes. We all react differently to certain things that life throws at us. It is often major changes that trigger depression. This includes events of a negative nature, such as the death of a family member, a separation or a job loss. Other possible causes include:

  • Personal problems with partners or children
  • Work stress
  • Burnout
  • Loss of control of one’s own life (for example through being dictated to)

Even an individual’s lifestyle can have an impact on a depression. Sleeping too little or irregularly, or eating unhealthily resulting in a sort of permanent fatigue can increase susceptibility to depression.

Of course, not everyone who suffers a major loss, experiences stress or leads an unhealthy lifestyle falls ill with depression. So how exactly can it be spotted, and how do professionals diagnose it?

Diagnosing and treating the symptoms of depression

Depressionen Symptome diagnostizieren und behandeln

The main diagnostic tool is an in-depth conversation with a psychologist. The thoughts and feelings of the patient and their typical behaviour patterns are the subject of this conversation. Together they discuss how the symptoms are affecting the patient’s life, or even making it harder. Blood and laboratory tests can also be used to help identify whether the causes are medical.

If this does actually lead to a diagnosis of depression, self-help and professional support should go hand-in-hand. It is particularly important that the patient does not isolate themselves, but rather stays in contact with family and friends. People with depression should talk about their condition and confide in those they are close to. This feeling of closeness, understanding and support can accelerate their recovery.

Expressing one’s own fears and worries to oneself is also helpful. Finding the courage to talk openly with a confidant can help those with depression to recognise that their fears are unfounded.

It is also important to look after one’s physical health. When dealing with a mental illness, it tempting to neglect one’s physical health. Above all, a balanced diet that provides the body with everything it needs in order to function optimally is essential.

Physical activity is also important. This does not necessarily have to be a challenging work-out. Even regular walks have been proven to have a positive effect on mental and physical well-being.


It goes without say that the mind must not be blurred with alcohol or drugs in order to shut out thoughts.

Routines are another valuable support, even during leisure time. Concentrating on following a fixed schedule helps to reduce the time spent occupied by fears and worries. Crossing completed items off a to-do-list helps those with depression to keep in mind what they have already achieved. This can help to improve their feelings of self-worth.

Tips for interacting with a depressive person

Fitness for the mind - mental fortitude

Depression also puts the relatives of the person affected to the test. Naturally, they want to provide support, but a great deal of sensitivity is required. Even the best of intentions can go awry.


Overwhelming a depressive person with advice, pressuring them to act, or giving them lectures is counterproductive. All of this simply puts more pressure on their shoulders.


Empathy and understanding are required. The best thing for relatives to do is to listen patiently and create a feeling of closeness. It is important to try to genuinely understand the feelings and worries of the person, even if this may be difficult.

Symptoms of depression: professional coaching to improve mental health

Many people increasingly feel like they are part of a performance-oriented society, one that puts ever increasing pressure on them. Often, this leads to increased stress levels and a fear of failure. For this reason, it is all the more important to take the right steps promptly in order to look after your mental health. This is exactly what mynd was created for.


Highly qualified coaches can help you to deal with the highs and lows of everyday life. With mynd you can learn to concentrate on what is really important and to pay proper attention to your inner well-being. Choose your coach and take control of your mental health.

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