Being clinically depressed is very different from the down type of feeling
that all people experience from time to time. Occasional feelings of sadness are
a normal part of life, and it is unfortunate that such feelings are often
colloquially referred to as "depression." In clinical depression, such feelings
are out of proportion to any external causes. There are things in everyone's
life that are possible causes of sadness, but people who are not clinically
depressed manage to cope with these things without becoming incapacitated. As
one might expect, depression can present itself as feeling sad or "having the
blues". However, sadness may not always be the dominant feeling of a depressed
person. Depression can also be experienced as a numb or empty feeling, or
perhaps no awareness of feeling at all. A depressed person may experience a
noticeable loss in their ability to feel pleasure about anything. Depression, as
viewed by psychiatrists, is an illness in which a person experiences a marked
change in their mood and in the way they view themselves and the world.
Depression as a significant depressive disorder ranges from short in duration
and mild to long term and very severe, even life threatening. Depressive
disorders come in different forms, just as do other illnesses such as heart
disease. The three most prevalent forms are major depression, dysthymia, and
Are You Depressed? FOR MORE THAN TWO WEEKS: 1. Do you feel sad, blue,
unhappy or "down in the dumps A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D.
Very Often E. Most of the time 2. Do you feel tired, having little
energy, unable to concentrate? A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D.
Very Often E. Most of the time 3. Do you feel uneasy, restless or
irritable? A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very Often E. Most
of the time 4. Do you have trouble sleeping or eating (too little or too
much)? A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very Often E. Most
of the time 5. Do you feel that you are not enjoying the activities that you
used to? A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very Often E. Most
of the time 6. Do you feel that you lost interest in sex or experiencing
sexual difficulties? A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very
Often E. Most of the time 7. Do you feel that it takes you longer than
before to make decisions or unable to concentrate? A. Never B.
Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very Often E. Most of the time 8. Do you
feel inadequate, like a failure or that nobody likes you anymore? A.
Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very Often E. Most of the
time 9. Do you feel guilty without a rational reason, or put yourself down?
A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very Often E. Most of the
time 10. Do you feel that things always go or will go wrong no matter how
hard you try? A. Never B. Rarely C. Sometimes D. Very Often E.
Most of the
Disclaimer: ODST is a preliminary screening test for depressive symptoms that
does not replace in any way a formal psychiatric evaluation. It is designed to
give a preliminary idea about the presence of mild to moderate depressive
symptoms that indicate the need for an evaluation by a psychiatrist.
What are the typical symptoms of depression?
A depressive disorder is a "whole-body" illness, involving your body, mood,
and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about
yourself, and the way you think about things. A depressive disorder is not a
passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can
be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull
themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for
weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help over 80% of
those who suffer from depression. Bipolar depression includes periods of high or
mania. Not everyone who is depressed or manic experiences every symptom. Some
people experience a few symptoms, some many. Also, severity of symptoms varies
with individuals. Symptoms of Depression: Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty"
mood Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism Feelings of guilt, worthlessness,
helplessness Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that you
once enjoyed, including sex Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping.
Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain Decreased energy.
fatigue, being "slowed down" Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts
Restlessness, irritability Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making
decisions Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as
headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
How do you know when depression is severe enough that help should be
Professional help is needed when symptoms of depression arise without a
clear precipitating cause, when emotional reactions are out of proportion to
life events, and especially when symptoms interfere with day-to-day
functioning.. Professional help should definitely be sought if a person is
experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Where should a person go for help?
If you think you might need help, see your internist or general practitioner
and explain your situation. Sometimes an actual physical illness can cause
depression-like symptoms so that is why it is best to see your regular physician
first to be checked out. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a
psychiatrist if the severity of your depression warrants it. Other sources of
help include the members of the clergy, local suicide hotline, local hospital
emergency room, local mental health center.