With the stresses of modern life, it can be easy to slip into a pattern of feeling down, depressed or ‘in a rut’. But how can you tell if what you are experiencing qualifies as clinical depression or just a temporary bout of sadness?
Whether you’re feeling depressed or just feeling down, talking to a psychologist is a good idea. Depression counselling can help you to identify the issues and help you to take action to feel better again, and also help to diagnose whether you are depressed. But for right now you can take the following quiz to get a rough idea and maybe put your mind at ease. For each question, select the response that more closely describes your personal situation.
Question 1: Is it longterm?
A. I feel sad sometimes, but generally I feel alright.
B. I feel down or even emotionless most of the day, almost every day.
Depression is an ongoing, long-term condition that affects you nearly all of the time. If your feelings of sadness tend to come and go, that is normal and reflects ongoing changes to your emotional and even hormonal state. If you are feeling down the majority of the time, it is possible that this may be associated with depression. And in fact, you may not necessarily be feeling sad, you may just feel emotionless, so the lack of positive emotion leaves you with that ‘depressed’ feeling – neither up nor down.
Question 2: What’s the reason?
A. I can identify a reason for my sadness (stress of my job, death of a loved one, fight with a friend etc.).
B. I cannot pinpoint why I am sad.
Depression is not typically associated with any one incident or personal situation. Rather, it is a generalised feeling of sadness over time. If you can name a reason for why you are feeling down, then it is likely that your mental state is merely a healthy response to an event or situation. Your brain may just need time to process your emotions before you can get back to feeling normal.
Question 3: What brings you happiness?
A. I don’t really feel like doing much right now, but I still enjoy the thought of performing my favourite activities.
B. I have little or no interest in activities that used to bring me pleasure.
Being sad or depressed can drain your energy, so it is common to lose interest in formerly enjoyable activities. If you are simply feeling tired and are lacking the energy required to engage in those pastimes, it is likely a temporary sadness that will pass with time. However, if your favourite activities no longer hold interest for you, this may be a sign of depression.
Question 4: Have you thought about taking extreme actions?
A. The thought of suicide may have crossed my mind occasionally, but I don’t think I would ever act on it.
B. I have seriously contemplated suicide and may even have made plans to take my own life.
It is not uncommon to have occasional thoughts that life is too difficult and you can’t go on living, but the vast majority of us would never actually follow through with it. In cases of depression, the person’s thoughts become so hopeless that they may feel they have no other options. If you are having serious suicidal thoughts, you should immediately seek the help of a mental health professional.
Did you answer As or Bs?
If you answered mostly As, it is likely that what you are experiencing is merely temporary sadness that will go away with time or with a change to your situation. Rely on your support systems (friends, family members, mentors, etc.) to help you through the difficult times, or if you feel like you don’t have anyone to talk to you can always see a psychologist to help you talk through your problems and find solutions.
If you selected more Bs than As, it is possible that you may suffer from clinical depression. Keep in mind that this quiz is not designed to diagnose depression, it is merely a tool to help you better understand what you are feeling. If you believe that you are depressed, you should consult with a mental health professional without delay.
There are a variety of treatments available for depression – it is certainly not hopeless. They include cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling and medication to balance your hormone levels. Clinical Psychologists (like us) can help in offering all of these solutions to help you find relief, so rest assured that there is a way out of your depression, and that your circumstances are never hopeless, regardless of what you feel. We are available for appointments Monday-Saturday – contact us today to book.