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Depression: Massive consequences of the illness on partnership and family
More and more people suffer from depression. The mental illness not only puts a strain on those affected themselves, but often also has a massive impact on partnership and family. Health experts point out that the withdrawal and numbness of depressed people are disease-related.
The number of people with depression is increasing
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with depression has increased significantly worldwide. In this country too, more and more people are affected by the mental illness. According to the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry (MPI), studies have shown that at least 15 percent of the population will develop depression in the course of their lives. The disease not only affects the patients themselves, but also often has a massive impact on family and partnership.
Stress also for the relatives
As the German Depression Aid Foundation writes in a current announcement, the illness depression depresses partnership and family to a great extent:
The second “Germany Barometer Depression” by the German Depression Aid Foundation and the Deutsche Bahn Foundation proves that 84 percent of those affected have withdrawn from social relationships during their depression.
The representative survey examined attitudes and experiences regarding depression in the population.
A total of 5,000 people between the ages of 18 and 69 were surveyed from an online panel for the German population in private households.
Half of those affected have problems in the partnership
Almost three quarters (72 percent) of those interviewed with the diagnosis of depression describe feeling no longer connected to people during the illness.
This has far-reaching consequences, because half of those affected report effects on the partnership. 45 percent of them have experienced separation due to the depression.
"The high number of separations shows what a serious illness the depression is," says Prof. Ulrich Hegerl, CEO of the German Depression Aid Foundation.
"People suffering from depression lose their drive, their interest and feel dead inside, without being connected to other people or their environment," said the expert.
“They withdraw and see everyday life as though wearing black glasses. All of these disease-related changes have a massive impact on partnership and family relationships, ”explains Hegerl.
"That is why depression is often the cause and not the result of partnership conflicts."
In retrospect, however, some of those affected also reported positive experiences: 36 percent of those affected stated that the mental illness even deepened and strengthened their relationship with their partner.
"Coming through the great suffering that causes depression can lead to growing together," explains Hegerl.
Gaps in knowledge among relatives lead to misunderstanding and misinterpretation
As the message says, the Germany Barometer Depression 2018 also provides data on the experiences of relatives:
According to this, 73 percent develop feelings of guilt towards their sick partner and feel responsible for their illness and recovery.
Almost one in three relatives (30 percent) said they felt badly informed about the depression.
Those affected who have experienced the effects of the disease on the partnership therefore report, above all, that they felt misunderstood and received reproaches from their partner (84 percent).
"It becomes clear that there is a great need for information about the disease, especially among relatives and acquaintances," says Dr. Christian Gravert, Project Manager Health Issues at the Deutsche Bahn Foundation and Senior Physician at Deutsche Bahn.
Detect alarm signs of the disease
It is helpful to recognize the first alarm signs of depression in order to be able to react to the disease as early as possible.
According to health experts, depression can take many different forms. The disease can start insidiously or appear suddenly, like a bolt from the blue.
The typical symptoms are sad mood disorders, sleep disorders, poor concentration, tiredness, irritability, slow movement, loss of appetite and weight loss, as well as hopelessness and the inability to emotionally participate in events in the immediate vicinity.
There are often fluctuations in the day, typically the depression is more pronounced in the morning than in the afternoon.
The interest in activities that are normally positively toned has died down, there is almost always a lack of sexual desire or even inability to engage in sexual activity.
In severe cases, hopelessness is so pronounced that the will to live is extinguished and suicidal thoughts occur, up to the planning and execution of suicide attempts.
Withdrawal and numbness are due to illness
Many relatives are not quite sure how best to deal with depressed people. Prof. Hegerl advises them: "Accept depression as a disease that can affect everyone!" Says the expert.
"And find out - because if you don't know what depression is, you will misinterpret the withdrawal and lack of care from your partner. It is not a lack of love or even bad will, but a sign of illness. ”
The best way to support relatives is to organize an appointment with the doctor and, if necessary, accompany the person concerned there. Because in depression, those affected often lack the strength and hope to seek help.
Hegerl also emphasizes: “Depression cannot be treated with affection alone, but requires medical help. It is important that relatives and friends know their own stress limits and organize support. ”(Ad)