You might be feeling depressed, but are you depressed enough to see a doctor about it? It's always difficult to tell if what we are experiencing is a normal level of sadness or true clinical depression that requires treatment.
About 30 years ago, researchers published a depression self-assessment in a medical journal called Applied Psychological Measurement. The scale presented in that article has been used by many doctors since to determine how depressed a patient is and to measure the effectiveness of treatment.
The following statements have been adapted from that scale. Read each of the descriptions below and think about how you've been feeling and behaving over the last two weeks. For each statement, try to decide if it's something that has been true almost every day, not true at all, or somewhere in between.
1. Have you had little interest or pleasure in doing things, even things that you used to enjoy doing before?
2. Have you been feeling depressed, down or hopeless?
3. Think about your sleeping patterns. Have you had difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? Or have you been sleeping much more than usual?
4. What about your energy levels? Over the past two weeks, have you felt tired or felt like you had very little energy?
5. Have your eating habits changed at all? For example, have you had a poor appetite with little desire for food? Or have you been overeating?
6. During the past two weeks, how often have you felt bad about yourself? Have you felt like a failure, like you have let yourself or your family down in some way?
7. Any trouble concentrating? Do you have difficulty focusing on television or reading?
8. Have you begun speaking or moving very slowly, enough that people have noticed? Or have you become restless and fidgety, unable to stay still?
9. Have you entertained any thoughts of suicide or of hurting yourself?
If you have been experiencing several of the feelings or behaviors described above fairly often over the last two weeks, you may be experiencing depression. You should contact your doctor and talk about how you're feeling. Your doctor will probably repeat a similar assessment to the one above and may prescribe antidepressants. The quicker you begin treatment, the sooner these troubling symptoms will begin to disappear.
Written by Jan Howard
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