Q. I’ve been reading your blog about depression but how do I know if I’m really depressed or just in a bad mood? Crystal in AL
A. For many of us, depression is a generic word we use to describe how we feel when we’re down in the dumps, stressed-out, overwhelmed, hurt, or sad. Many of us have bad days or even a bad couple of days, but then we start to feel better and our depressed mood passes.
Those who lean toward a melancholy temperament or struggle with bouts of depressed feelings for a few days may not be clinically depressed but still need to be mindful of taking good care of themselves lest they slip into a deeper depression.
Unfortunately, there are no blood tests to determine if you are depressed. However there is a general checklist of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual manifestations of depression that most physicians and mental healthy professionals would use to determine if a person is clinically depressed.
Professionals consider many factors when making the diagnosis of clinical depression. Sometimes it isn’t easy to diagnose because there are other problems that can coexist with depression. For example, some women are depressed but don’t realize it because they also struggle with an anxiety disorder, drug or alcohol abuse, marital problems, or a physical illness that can mask a coexisting depression.
Some of the signs professionals look for to ascertain whether someone is depressed or not are how long the symptoms have persisted, how severe they are, and whether the person is having trouble functioning at home or at work. The presence of suicidal and/or self-destructive thoughts is a clear indicator of depression.
Some symptoms of depression are easier to notice than others. Some people describe feeling hopeless, sad, numb, or anxious. They find no pleasure in things they once enjoyed. Others say they can’t concentrate, make decisions, or think clearly.
If you’d like to take my free depression test go to my home page under “Latest News” and take the test. www.leslievernick.com
If you recognize several of the symptoms of depression in yourself, please make an appointment with your medical doctor for a checkup and evaluation in addition to seeing a Christian counselor. You may have one of several medical conditions that mimic the symptoms of depression and that medication will easily remedy.
One final piece of advice. Please don’t ignore your symptoms just because they aren’t disabling you yet. A sprained ankle is not as serious as a broken leg and a broken leg is not as serious as a severed one. But in each case, competent care is necessary to maximize healing and minimize long term complications.
For more help in learning how to fight depression see my new book Defeating Depression.