Everyone has fluctuations in mood and feels down in the dumps sometimes—it’s a normal part of the range of human emotion. But how do you know if what you’re experiencing is actually a clinical depression?
Here’s a simplified version of the PHQ-9, which is called the Patient Health Questionnaire. It’s one of the ways we screen for depression.
Over the last two weeks, have you been bothered by any of the following problems?
1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things.
2. Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless.
3. Trouble falling/staying asleep, or sleeping too much.
4. Feeling tired or having little energy.
5. Poor appetite or overeating.
6. Feeling bad about yourself, or that you are a failure, or have let yourself or your family down.
7. Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching TV.
8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed, or the opposite—being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around more than usual.
9. Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way.
Did you check off any of these symptoms?
If you did, ask yourself one further question: have these problems made it difficult for you to do your work, take care of things at home, or get along with other people?
If you said yes, they have interfered with your life in some way, you may be suffering a clinical depression, and you need to talk to your doctor. Keep in mind, this test is a screening test—which means it is not designed to make an absolute diagnosis. When a screening test is positive, it means we need to investigate further.
Depression is common. One in seven adults in Canada will identify symptoms that meet the criteria for a mood disorder at some point during their lifetime.
Pregnancy and the post-partum phase is a particularly vulnerable time—postpartum depression strikes 12-16% of mothers. It’s something I struggled with personally with my first baby, and I know many other YMC bloggers suffered it, as well.
The thing about depression is that people often feel ashamed, and they think it’s something they should be able to “get over.” Unfortunately, family members and other support people sometimes have the same viewpoint. Stigmas about mental health issues still exist.
If you suffer this illness, you need help. And help is available. A thorough approach to depression includes counselling, lifestyle change, and perhaps medication. It all starts with a conversation with your doctor.
If you found this helpful, please see some of my other mental health posts: