Disorders and Treatment
- Mental Illness
- Bipolar Disorder
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How to Tell if You Are Depressed
The first thing to realize is that “real” depression is a medical issue. After all, we all get the blues, feel sad or have bouts of melancholy. The difference is how much the condition interferes with normal functioning and how long it lasts. At its worst, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions – meaning it can be a fatal disease.
Feelings of withdrawal, fatigue and an inability to take action to remedy the situation are all part of how depression presents. Distinguishing between what needs to be treated, and what will likely pass with time, is the difficult part.
There are several useful tests you can take online to get some perspective. Both recommended here are based on diagnostic standards used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the same material psychologists and psychiatrists use when making a diagnosis.
A short test that ranks on a scale from none to severe with only a few important questions is available from the Mayo Clinic. You can take it here.
A second, much more detailed test is available from Psychology Today. This self assessment is much more like what you might fill out at a doctor’s office.
For various reasons, a self assessment isn’t a definitive answer on whether you are clinically depressed or not. The reason is that other explanations may fit your case better. Some types of depression have physical causes or are self limiting. For example, many people who are fighting addiction go through a period of depression during withdrawal. Other types, such as grief or adjusting to a new life situation may cause short term feelings very similar to major depression – in many cases, these get better with time.
One major distinguishing factor in depression is physical illness. When a medical condition is chronic, depression may follow simply because of the illness and the inability to feel healthy. For these reasons, a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist will look at your unique situation, rather than just relying on the results of a paper test.
Where can I get a solid answer?
If you are having symptoms of depression it is worth seeking a professional opinion. Not only will a medical professional be able to focus on significant areas and identify with your unique situation, they offer a non-judgmental, third party perspective.
Part of being depressed is a feeling you cannot do anything about it. This is coupled with a kind of mental fog that prohibits logical decision making. For this reason, you might ask others who you trust if they think you need to seek professional help. If anonymity is an issue, there are sites on the web where you can share your experiences with others and get advice. The critical thing is to recognize the disease might interfere with your ability to get help.
Health insurance will pay for depression treatment when it is medically diagnosed. And there are many useful options, up to and including medications. Getting a solid answer will get you past the worry and anxiety while moving you closer to feeling better.
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