Depression and a low mood – a dangerous combination

A low mood is usually triggered by current stresses, for example, disappointments, stress, financial worries, limiting physical disorders or conflict with other people. People affected feel more exhausted, more thin-skinned or more restless than usual. Some people need more time for themselves in such phases, others try to distract themselves or confide their problems in trusted people such as friends or relatives. A low mood is not a psychological illness. It reflects the current emotional state in the context of current events.

Depression, on the other hand, can develop if a variety of stress factors occur at the same time or a low mood lasts for more than two weeks. Women are affected by this illness around twice as often as men. Doctors differentiate the following severities depending on the number of main and additional symptoms: minor depressive episode, moderate depressive episode, major depressive Episode.

Many people experience phases from time to time in which they feel down, restless, tired, sad and lack drive. Often, such a depth of emotion passes after one or two weeks. However, if the negative thoughts and feelings last for longer and are more severe than usual, this is generally a low mood that in the worst case scenario can lead to a serious depression.

Low moods and depression: causes

The causes of low moods or depression are completely different. These include diseases affecting the metabolism (for example diabetes) and neurological diseases. Furthermore, severe infectious diseases and heart disease have a major effect on the psyche. Older people are affected especially often by illnesses and major changes in their life and are more at risk of developing a low mood. Medications can also trigger a low mood in older people, or also young people.

Which symptoms point to a low mood or depression?

Diagnosis of a low mood or in the worst case scenario depression is not always easy. If typical signs persist for longer than two weeks this can indicate an episode of depression.

The main symptoms include:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Lack of drive and exhaustion
  • Loss of pleasure and lack of interest
  • Increased fatigue

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Feelings of self-doubt and inferiority
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
  • Sleep disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts

Furthermore, other characteristic symptoms include:

  • Brooding
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of emotion
  • Loss of libido
  • Physical symptoms

How can depression be treated?

Regardless of the cause, depression is treated with medication and/or psychotherapy. The medications are primarily antidepressants. In contrast to painkillers or sedatives, it generally takes around 10 to 14 days before the patient starts to see an initial improvement of their symptoms. Therefore, it is important that people affected take the prescribed medication consistently and do not discontinue the medication of their own accord due to a perceived lack of effectiveness.

The active participation of the patient is a prerequisite for beneficial psychotherapy. Therefore, the psychotherapeutic conversation can only take place after preparatory treatment with antidepressants if the depression is severe. The most suitable psychotherapeutic method is defined in a personal therapy concept between the doctor and Patient.

What is seasonal affective disorder?

The long hours of darkness in the autumn and winter months lead to a temporary depressed mood in many people. However, this is not usually depression in the medical sense. True seasonal affective disorder is rare and only affects around one to three percent of the total population. Sufferers of this are not necessarily sad and depressed, but primarily tired, listless and exhausted. An increased need for sleep and craving sweet foods high in calories are typical for seasonal affective disorder.

The lack of natural daylight and the reduced light intensity during the dark months cause this form of depression. Light signals to the body to produce the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin. At the same time the body minimises the release of the hormone melatonin which influences the rhythm of waking and sleeping.

Seasonal affective disorder is treated the same way as other forms of depression. Many patients benefit from a special light therapy with very bright light sources (at least 10,000 lux), which compensate for the lack of light and artificially lengthen the day. With just this therapy, it is difficult to get the depression under Control.

Helping people to help themselves – what can people affected do?

While severe depression essentially belongs in medical hands, the following measures may help to regain emotional balance in the case of mild depression:

  •  Sport and exercise
  • Relaxation exercises (meditation, yoga, autogenic training)
  • Talking and social contact
  • A wholesome diet
  • Sufficient light (exercise in the fresh air)
  • Enough free time for compensatory and/or exciting Hobbies
  • Regular times for sleeping and waking.

Furthermore, naturopathy offers a variety of options for self medication. For example, high-dose extracts of St. John's wort block the reuptake of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline in nerve cells. These neurotransmitters remain in the so-called synaptic cleft (space between the nerve cells) and continue to exert an effect.

There are a variety of options for self-tests on the internet for those people who are not sure whether their problem is a low mood or is already depression. For example, the Max Planck Institute created such a test for the WHO. However, in the case of a severe low mood that persists for longer, a doctor or psychotherapist is the appropriate point of contact.

People affected and interested non-professionals can find further helpful information on our product and service pages. 

Study: The secret logic of depression

Depth psychological study reveals hidden structure

Our contemporary culture is geared towards maximising happiness and promises everyone unlimited achievement. So the interesting question is: How does a depression with its never-ending sadness, the feeling of paralysis or isolation equate to the maxim that everyone forges their own destiny?

A current Pascoe study by the Rheingold Institute sheds light on the problem. In two-hour probing interviews the interviewers triggered a wave of narratives, which downright inundated the interviewers. Amazing findings were brought to light on the structure of depressive moods extending far beyond a biologistic-genetic or medical-chemical consideration.

This structure results in courses of action for ways out of the depression 

1. Openly confront your own aspirations and put them into perspective

2. Incorporate some room for manoeuvre into your daily life: extended breaks, open days, moments for boredom and idleness

3. Have confidence not only to use the label depression, but also to share with others how you are really feeling

4. Set priorities in your everyday life: Try out little imperfect intermediate steps

5. Radiate energy outwards and open your horizon beyond the symptoms

6. Take responsibility for your actions

7. Hygiene for the psyche instead of a gentle wash cycle:

  • Defend yourself actively
  • Mourn losses or setbacks - do not just accept them
  • Also make yourself unpopular
  • Be willing to take constraints not only as an affront, but as an impulse to actively call yourself and your environment into question. 

8. Use medicinal plants such as passion flower, St. John’s wort and valerian to break the vicious circle (e.g., in Neurapas® Balance)

Help is key

If depression and despondency continue for long or they constantly dominate your daily life, you should not fail to consult your physician or alternative practitioner.

Natural energy for the psyche

If you are depressive and suffering from nervous anxiety, Neurapas® balance can help to replenish your mental strength.

Be in equilibrium and resilient through a combination of as many as three medicinal plants:

  •  St. John's wort: strengthens your nerves and brightens your mood
  • Passion flower: has a soothing and calming effect
  • Valerian: helps to counter anxiety and sleep disorders

Further advice

  • Be aware that a depression is not due to personal failure or a character defect.
  • Talk with friends and a therapist
  • Learn to say "NO"!
  • Benefit from the the sun and sport's capacity to heal: get plenty of exercise in the fresh air.
  • Sleep at regular times and do not retire to bed during the day.
  • Do not put yourself under pressure, but set specific and clear goals for the day.
  • Do not hold back your tears; they can release pressure.
  • Learn and do regular relaxation exercises (yoga, autogenic training, Tai Chi).
  • Find out more about "the secret logic of Depression"
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