Are you depressed? Depression does not necessarily mean you’re just sad. You might be more numb—not feeling much of anything—than sad.
But some people are in deed sad, withdrawn from others as well as from themselves, and withdrawn from most of the activities that used to bring them pleasure and enjoyment.
Take this quiz, adapted from W.W.K. Zung (Archives of General Psychiatry). Decide how much of the time each statement describes how you have been feeling during the past several days.
Scoring: 1=a little of the time 2= some of the time 3=a good part of the time 4=most of the time
- I feel down-hearted and blue.
- Morning is when I feel the worst.
- I have crying spells or feel like it.
- I have trouble sleeping at night.
- I don’t eat as much as I used to.
- I’m not enjoying sex anymore.
- I notice that I’m losing weight.
- I have trouble with constipation.
- My heart beats faster than usual.
- I get tired for no reason.
- My mind is not as clear as it used to be.
- I find it hard to do the things I used to.
- I feel hopeless about the future.
- I am more irritable than usual.
- I find it hard to make decisions.
- I feel useless and unneeded.
- My life is pretty empty.
- I feel that others would be better off if I were dead.
- I don’t enjoy the things I used to do.
- I am restless and can’t keep still.
Now, total up your score, which should range from 20-80. Clinically, you’re not considered depressed if your score is less than 50, but my observation is that people with scores between 40 and 50 are still feeling pretty depressed. The higher your score, the more depressed you are. A score over 70 indicates a paralyzing depression that requires immediate intervention and treatment—but I would recommend immediate treatment for anyone with a score of 50 or more.
Depressed people tend to slow down dramatically. They find it difficult to socialize with people, difficult to concentrate and difficult to have any get up-and-go. Even small tasks or chores feel overwhelming and hard to complete. Libido diminishes considerably and emotions other than depression feel blunted and difficult to access. Normal things that have, in the past, brought pleasure—such as watching a movie, exercising, going out on the town, dancing, sex, etc.—no longer feel pleasurable or interesting. And some people have mood spirals, where their depression keeps spiraling downward, and they get lower and lower and lower and lower.
I will discuss treatment techniques and what you can do to overcome depression in next week’s column.