Low resilience: causes and help

Low resilience: causes and help

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Emotionally resilient people can deal with tragedies and severe stress, whether in relationships, illnesses or money problems. People usually cope with such burdens: This can be seen, for example, after an earthquake, when those affected rebuild their homes and lives.

However, a normal or even strong resilience does not mean that you have no feelings, because those who have experienced catastrophes and then start again feel grief and pain. Rather, it means enduring and dealing with crises. Behaviors, thoughts and actions that give a perspective can also be learned.

External factors strengthen or weaken resilience. Stable relationships inside and outside the family are important in order to develop inner strength, not to break up during crises; Relationships that give love and trust promote resilience.

Resiliently resilient people develop realistic plans and take the right steps to implement them; they communicate with other people to solve problems and control their impulses.

Abused, scared and spoiled

For people with low loads, however, everyday life is a gauntlet run; every visit to the authorities presents them with hardly solvable problems. This can have social causes: parents who manipulate or abuse raise children who do not trust that "everything will go well". Parents who “make their children small”, that is, annul their achievements instead of supporting progress, thereby support someone who no longer believes in anything.

The same applies to over-anxious parents who paint the catastrophe on the wall with each step their children take. They shape later adults who are helpless in the face of unusual situations. The "worry" about what could happen stifles any initiative. Doing nothing promises a wrong alternative to a “threatening outside world”.

Pampering children also promotes low resilience. Those affected are not necessarily afraid of everyday life; but they have not learned to cope with it. They lack practical experience, and at the same time they weigh in false security - because the caring parents do not wait in the outside world.

However, people who are difficult to cope with because they are socially incorrect can learn this - at least if they have not suffered severe psychological damage. Confidential relationships and successes in the outside world transform distrust into healthy caution. Own experiences separate parents' fears from their own lives. Spoiled people learn through experiences in which they are on their own, for example by moving to a foreign city. This includes the willingness to give up “privileges”.

Physical symptoms

Even those who are less resilient from social experience often show physical symptoms, and a detailed analysis is necessary. The reverse is also true: people whose low resilience develops through an illness should not do research in their childhood. Did an original resilience change due to a heart problem, for example? Then social experiences are secondary at best.

Diseases that are associated with low resilience include: obesity, cold, inflammation of the brain, leukemia, myocarditis, multiple sclerosis, lung cancer, Alzheimer's disease, anemia, inguinal hernia, hypothyroidism, iron deficiency such as magnesium deficiency and acidosis.

If the physical symptoms are in the foreground, this means somatic disorder. If the physical symptoms are accompanied by psychological problems, this is called a psychosomatic disorder. In addition to neurologists and internal medicine, the psychiatrist is required here.

For example, a person can be less resilient because he is overweight, smokes heavily and has an alcohol problem. Does he eat a “protective armor” because he suffered early injuries? Then being overweight is a symptom of passivity as a structure of life. Does the exhaustion report because he is afraid of going to the authorities? Again, is this fear because he fears change? Is it a general anxiety disorder? Is the low resilience an attempt to protect yourself?

Limiting smoking, avoiding alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly help against physical symptoms as well as psychological problems.

If there are psychological causes, a psychologist must accompany the treatment. If the person concerned is so little resilient that he has problems at work, everyday life and relationships, the mental illness is usually already advanced. Talk therapies are at the beginning to determine the cause of the problem. Only then will the psychologist and doctor design the treatment: Mental care and medication work hand in hand. Visualizations help the patient to develop an image of himself as he would like to be: for example, leaner, more confident, more active. Behavioral therapy helps to approach the desired condition.

If the low resilience is due to an acute illness, pure psychotherapy would be fatal: smoking cough such as bronchitis, for example, leads to breathing problems. Protection helps with bronchitis, oxygen with smoker's cough.

Diseases can also be a means of escaping stressful situations and providing relaxation. The boundaries between imaginary and real symptoms melt away. Headaches and exhaustion are reactions to avoiding a situation. Condemning the person concerned as a "simulator" is usually wrong, because the physical symptoms show that he feels really overwhelmed.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is one of the most common disorders. One in four Central Europeans suffers from daytime fatigue and feels exhausted. Often, those affected are physically and mentally overworked, eat unhealthily or sleep too little - a consequence of the pressure to perform in late capitalism. Chronic fatigue syndrome occurs when these conditions last longer than half a year and remain despite a healthy daily schedule and sufficient sleep. This applies to 1% of Germans.

Those affected can hardly concentrate, have memory gaps, no sexual desire, are susceptible to pathogens and therefore often get colds like flu infections, they sleep poorly and little, they suffer from pain in the head, muscles, joints and lymph nodes; Depression, fears and inner restlessness affect her psyche.

Medicine knows nothing about the causes. However, it is clear that psychological stress is in the foreground. However, the symptoms can also indicate organic diseases - and then they are not CPS: heart problems, lung and kidney damage, cancer or diseases of the metabolism as well as diabetes. Drug abuse, anorexia and bulemia also manifest themselves in chronic exhaustion.

Chronic fatigue syndrome can only be treated long-term. Since the causes are also unknown, the patient and his relatives have to endure the uncertainty. As a first step, they can change stressful living habits. Behavioral therapy also helps. But that is often easier said than done: If you have to constantly perform better and get less and less money, can hardly make a living, are in debt, have no time for intimate relationships, and therefore get sick, it is difficult to change the situation yourself. A CFS diagnosis would have to ensure that he is released from work because of his illness. Changing lifestyle habits relieved symptoms in one in three of those affected.

If a CFS is on the horizon but has not yet become chronic, you can simply counteract it: Restful sleep in ventilated rooms, avoiding alcohol and nicotine, healthy eating (i.e. complex carbohydrates, low fats, vitamins, fruits, vegetables and fish); Sports and gymnastics, sunlight, relaxation techniques such as autogenic training or yoga; psychological care. However, individual strategies are of little help against unacceptable conditions in the workplace. Instead of getting the sick to function again in the illness-causing situation, the legislature is asked to prescribe decent jobs.

Magnesium and iron deficiency

Magnesium and iron deficiency are organic causes for low resilience. The body receives magnesium from the small intestine and excretes it in sweat and urine. The body feeds the magnesium in through food. If food and drinks contain too little magnesium, there is a magnesium deficiency; Alcohol, nicotine and genetic dispositions mean that the body can absorb less magnesium.

Those affected suffer from poor circulation, they feel permanently exhausted, the heart rhythm is disturbed, the feet are cold and numb, the muscles twitch and cramp, back and head ache. You often have to sleep without feeling rested. Emotional upsets accompany the physical problems: the patients feel confused and forge cloudy thoughts; the world appears to them gray in gray.

Iron deficiency is a mass problem; around two billion people, especially women, suffer from it. Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin and build cells like enzymes. The body cannot produce iron itself and has to absorb 1 to 2 grams per day. Iron is mainly found in meat and fish, especially in the liver.

Women need larger amounts of iron during their period and pregnancy. Heavy periods, but also inflammation of the stomach and hemorrhoids lead to increased iron consumption. Athletes excrete iron through their urine and sweat.

Iron deficiency is shown by torn corners of the mouth, brittle hair and nails, pain in the tongue. Persistent iron deficiency leads to anemia because the body no longer produces red blood cells. Then they suffer from dizziness, headaches, their hands and legs tingle, and they become susceptible to infections.

Lean meat can prevent iron deficiency, as can legumes, white beans or lentils. Coffee, tea and milk should be avoided with meals.

Iron deficiency often accompanies other diseases; Eating disorders regularly have an iron problem, addicts and vomit addicts as well as anorectics.


Depression severely limits experience, behavior and performance. Depressed people feel hopeless and empty inside. Guilt is paired with fear, despair with grief, and in a severe depression they feel nothing at all; they feel "petrified". Between them and the outside world there seems to be a bell jar that they cannot break through; Communication with other people seems impossible.

All thoughts of your own abilities slip into the negative; society develops in an exclusively dark direction for them. They can hardly concentrate, torture themselves with self-criticism and think about suicide. Typical delusions are: suffering from an incurable disease, being hated by the family and being a failure. In the depressive phase, the sufferers are rarely convinced that they are only going through one phase.

Depressed people break off friendships, end their hobbies, no longer go to work and cannot stand them either. They usually lie down in bed and stare at the wall. They speak as quietly as they do in monosyllables, their faces appear frozen. They sleep little and wake up early; they hardly eat and lose a lot of weight; they have no sexual desire; her whole body hurts.

Depressive phases last for several weeks, months, and sometimes even years. A mild depression that is chronic is called dysthymia. It usually begins after puberty.

Long periods of depression are dangerous because the person affected perceives them as part of their personality. He does not see himself as a victim of a temporary illness, but considers hopelessness to be his inner being.

The term depression is used negligently. "I am currently depressed" mostly means "I feel depressed". This negligence has fatal consequences for dealing with people with real depression: Those who feel depressed, be it because they have lost their job or their partner, go through an emotional valley, but usually get out of it - for example through self-discipline.

Even worse: A sick person who cannot change his condition sees himself near the eternal grumbler, who spoils the mood of others. With such "grumblers", the best way is to ignore them in the situation and generally avoid contact with them. Clinically depressed people, on the other hand, need professional help as well as loving care.

Those who have experience with clinically depressed people therefore use the term cautiously, and depressive illnesses can be clearly distinguished from normal sadness. Depressed people rarely complain to others; they are hardly physically able to do this anymore. They often see a doctor not because of their mental problems, but because of physical problems, for example to get sleeping pills. They feel paralyzed, and their lack of drive is not a “mood” like a “zero goat” feeling of a teenager. Other depressives are restless, running back and forth. Common to both is desperation felt as existential.

The advice to motivate a “normally listless” person aggravates the suffering of a depressed person instead of alleviating it. "Biting your teeth together" drives him even more into the wrong idea that he is to blame for his condition. The tip to do something with others mercilessly shows him that he cannot do it.

To suggest to him that “reality is not so dark” questions his perception that depressed people actually see their environment clearly - too clearly: depressed people consider themselves worthless; they feel guilty about whatever. They feel responsible for disasters in their environment with which they have little to do. Despite this distorted perspective, depressed people sometimes perceive reality better than “healthy people” - in a way that is negative for them.

This is shown by the light bulb test: the test subjects press a button, sometimes the light goes on, the bulb lights up randomly for other participants. Too often, non-depressed people think that they turn on the lamp. Depressed people, on the other hand, are surprisingly close to the real connection between pressing the button and the light. So you can't be misled.

You lack positive self-suggestion. Whether my company is successful or fails is almost always due to luck, more precisely, to external conditions that we cannot influence. Religious practices emerged from the desire to control the environment. Without positive suggestions, hardly anyone would write a novel or a doctoral thesis. Politicians, artists or scientists are also successful because they believe (or claim) to be responsible for important developments. In reality, most of the time they happened to be in the right place at the right time.

So the feeling of helplessness of the depressed is often realistic. This hyperrealism drives the sufferer into hopelessness and even the thought of suicide. Then a depressed person needs professional help immediately, because his suicide fantasies are not an attempt to catch attention, but dead serious. It is dangerous to talk him out of these thoughts in a friendly manner; he needs psychiatric help to be protected from himself. This is best done in a closed department, as modern antidepressants take weeks to work.

Such antidepressants bring the messenger substances in the patient's brain back into balance. For this he needs psychotherapy, because physical sensation and depressive thoughts are inextricably linked. Therapy starts with simple behavior: a depressed person who does not get out of bed aggravates his suffering.

So the therapist firstly tries to get the patient out of his sluggishness, and secondly he creates situations that reward him. Therapy dogs now promise good experiences with severely depressed people. Those affected feel a wall between themselves and other people. Dogs break through this wall and can persuade the sick to seek contact with people step by step. (The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, March 2007).

Low resilience in cancer

All cancers mean, in an advanced stage, low resilience. For someone with end-stage lung cancer, however, resilience is the least of the problems. However, the low resilience of people who survived cancer is often overlooked. You need targeted support.

The so-called fatigue syndrome denotes permanent fatigue after cancer treatment. For example, cytostatia therapy restricts blood formation - this means low resilience. Those who developed cancer as a child are usually traumatized as an adult. This can manifest itself as depression or anxiety disorder. Those affected isolate themselves socially and are sometimes unable to work.

This also applies to relatives. Children who take care of their mothers until death easily lose connection with school and are also plagued by fear. They often seem mature compared to their peers, but they had to deal with existential situations that rob them of the energy for age-specific preparation for the job.

Chemotherapy often leads to late damage. Unfortunately, aftercare is often only taken into account whether the cancer comes back. Heart diseases, diabetes, metabolic disorders or a lack of bone density are among the common long-term consequences. They all limit resilience.


Malnutrition means that the body does not get enough nutrients, energy and protein. Those who eat too little in the long run eat poorly. But even those who eat an unbalanced diet deny their body the necessary vitamins and minerals.

The symptoms of malnutrition are often misinterpreted and are often related to a generally unhealthy lifestyle. If you eat an unbalanced diet because you work overtime, smoke a lot, sleep too little and do no sport, poor nutrition is hardly perceived as a trigger for your discomfort. Old people quickly attribute the consequences of malnutrition to their age.

The symptoms of malnutrition are also typical of psychological problems and serious organic diseases: nutrient deficiency manifests itself as loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea and nausea - but this also applies to lovesickness and gastrointestinal infections. Mental suffering can also be a reason for poor nutrition. A healthy diet does not work miracles here, but it also helps against mental suffering. Because the consequences of malnutrition such as physical weakness, lack of motivation and exhaustion force cloudy thoughts.

Malnutrition has various causes: Serious eating disorders such as bulemia and anorexia are necessarily accompanied by an unbalanced diet. Anorexics eat poorly because overall they eat too little; Food and vomit addicts don't eat enough nutrients because they vomit before the body can implement them.

In the industrialized countries, poor people often suffer from an unbalanced diet, i.e. a lack of quality. Junk food usually has far too much sugar, simple carbohydrates and fats, while vitamins and minerals are largely lacking. Alcoholics and heroin addicts generally neglect to balance the poison with minerals; they need water, salts and vitamins.

In the Third World and traditional cultures, a balanced diet is often not possible. In the Amazon region, in Papua New Guinea and in large parts of Africa, food mainly consists of starch, obtained from yams or sweet potatoes. Vitamin deficiency is common.

In contrast, a balanced diet is possible in the industrialized countries - even on a small budget. Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit for vitamins, fish for protein and omega fats, as well as direct juices, legumes for fiber, whole grain bread for complex carbohydrates, and milk for calcium are enough to prevent malnutrition. Brocolli and cauliflower, kale and white cabbage are "energy bombs". However, homeless people are unable to prepare fresh food themselves, and many working people have a life structure that contradicts a balanced diet.

Differences in constitution

Every person is different. Those who have low resilience in an area often endure situations in which "resilient" despair. For example, highly sensitive people are often considered to be less resilient if they are "in the wrong place at the wrong time." But they are not sick.

High sensitivity is not a personality disorder, but a perception without which no society can get by. One in five people are much more sensitive to stimuli than others because of their genetic makeup. This differentness requires special support. Highly sensitive people notice nuances that others do not notice. They understand the symbolic language of dreams and put themselves in imaginary worlds. They are extremely sensitive and are very interested in spiritual questions. Highly sensitive are quickly flooded with stimuli. Trying to conform to the norm, "pulling yourself together" would be fatal. Because highly sensitive people don't tolerate less than others, they have to process more. You need a low-impact retreat to focus thoughts. Your performance is therefore strongly dependent on the environment. Over-stimulation quickly leads to emotional outbursts.

They appear to be low-stress because they are sensitive to smells, smoke, vapors or pollen, get used to permanent noise poorly, and perceive visual and acoustic impressions more intensely. They are easily frightened, excitable quickly, and can hardly bear stress. If "too much is going on" they withdraw. They do poorly in exams when someone controls them. Because they have to process more stimuli than "normal" sensitive ones, they exhaust more quickly - so they are less resilient.

Highly sensitive, however, show how important a work environment is that does justice to the individual. The supposed weaknesses are strengths when they are encouraged: highly sensitive people can concentrate extremely well, their empathy far exceeds that of the “normal”. They think in larger contexts, have a pronounced intuition, a fine sense of justice, a lively imagination, perceive psychological relationships in the workplace carefully, weigh decisions carefully, reflect on their own actions, work conscientiously to the urge for perfection and learn to the highest degree Age.

No company that takes humanity seriously can do without its social skills: Hypersensitive people feel more connected to other people than vice versa, they perceive the feelings of others intensely and listen well. They try to create harmony even under extreme conditions.

All kinds of stress

Some people are “inherently robust”. They accept strokes of fate or do not even notice them. Others are sensitive and react more intensely to stimuli. Depending on where someone has their “Archilles' heel”, they are not very resilient there: Anyone who suffers from dog phobia is constantly under pressure as a waiter in a beer garden where dogs are constantly lying around. If my employee suffers from a smoke allergy, he is not immediately a "mimosa" because I, as a chain smoker, do not have this problem.

If I am an excellent programmer but cannot lift easily due to a herniated disc, I am not generally weak enough to work under pressure; The reverse also applies if I work as a furniture packer, but do not know how to turn a computer on.

So if someone feels burdened, it is important to take them seriously, even if the majority of employees do not have this problem. Nervous complaints in the stomach, intestines or heart are serious warning signals - as well as sweating, headaches and tension in the muscles. If the person concerned also becomes increasingly impatient, angry, his performance drops, and he tired prematurely, the team is asked. Instead of pushing him to persevere, there is a conversation about what his complaints are about.

The working atmosphere and working conditions are often the reason for the drop in performance. Bullying leads to the very stress that triggers low resilience: Anyone who is afraid to go to work, who distrusts his employees (rightly), will feel the exhaustion and low resilience at some point. Highly qualified people who finished their studies with top grades, but who suffer from bullying at school as adults, are also less resilient. Those who humiliated their “classmates” as “nerds” and who therefore fear social relationships, therefore despair of situations that are normal for employees who have not had such experiences.

Those who limit individual triggers in their work quality can be helped with simple means - be it another cleaning agent for allergic reactions to a chemical or by removing cobwebs if a colleague suffers from a spider phobia.

However, if work and resilience are incompatible, a change of job is the consequence. For example, anyone who became a teacher because of the supposedly short working hours, the appealing salary and the supposedly long vacation, and who is now overworked when sitting opposite groups of pubescent students, has chosen the wrong profession.

The motto applies to all forms of low resilience: everyone according to their abilities, everyone according to their needs. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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