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When to Seek Assistance for Depression Symptoms

October 6th, 2022

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Just two decades ago it was not common practice for medical providers to use depression screenings with their patients. Luckily with the increased focus on mental health that came at the turn of the century more and more, medical providers are requiring a screening as part of their basic intake paperwork.

Let's take a look at some common scenarios in which depression screenings are useful:

  • Sammie goes to her OBGYN for birth control. Upon speaking with her provider, she notes she has been sad this week because she lost the bracelet her mom left her but that she will be fine.
  • Jane goes to the primary care doctor and while being assessed she states that she has not been feeling well emotionally. Upon further explanation, Jane mentions she has recently lost her job and had been crying and unable to get out of bed for the last few days. This can be considered situational depression as the cause is the lack of employment and the worry about the hardships that may ensue.
  • At her annual checkup Sarah reported that while work and her relationship with her husband are fine, she has lost weight from not eating, is not motivated to hang with her close friends, has been feeling hopeless, finds it hard to focus and last week was scared after thinking about taking the whole bottle of pain pills.
Differentiating Sadness and Depression

Differentiating Sadness and Depression

These three women demonstrate some of the various ways that depression screenings are important to use in all medical settings as well as how depression may manifest within someone. I have heard many people mention that they are depressed but it is important to know the difference between sadness and depression.

A diagnosis of depression looks at specific symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, sleeping disturbances whether too much or too little sleep, change in appetite and weight, concentration difficulties, physical symptoms such as digestive concerns or pain, loss of interest in things once enjoyed, and suicidal thoughts.

Sadness is a normal part of living based on certain circumstances and can usually go away rather quickly while depression may not have a known cause and can last for a much longer time.

How Common is Depression?

How Common is Depression?

It is estimated that about 17.3 million people suffer from major depressive disorder in the United States. It is likely that either you or someone you know may have experienced sadness, but it is also possible that someone you know may have experienced symptoms of clinical depression.

Historically, depression has been thought of as a taboo topic. Many people hide the fact that they are depressed choosing to battle symptoms alone while others seek help and fear being ostracized. However, many people never go on to get help for a variety of different reasons stemming from lack of access to care, cultural concerns, or not acknowledging that something is wrong.

National Depression Screening Day

National Depression Screening Day

There has been a movement towards normalizing the discussion around depression and mental illness in general. On October 6th, an annual call to action takes place, National Depression Screening Day. It is a national push to spread awareness, reduce the taboo and get people to help. Many will be participating so that hopefully when people like those in the above fictitious vignette go to be seen by their providers, they can receive the mental health care they need as well as not feel scared to report their feelings.

To help, here is an example of questions that could be asked during a screening:

  1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  2. Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  3. Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  4. Feeling tired or having little energy
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  5. Poor appetite or overeating
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  6. Feeling bad about yourself - or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  7. Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  9. Or the opposite - being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  10. Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or hurting yourself
    1. NOT AT ALL
    2. SEVERAL DAYS
    3. MORE THAN HALF THE DAYS
    4. NEARLY EVERY DAY
  11. If you checked off any problems, how difficult have these problems made for you at work, at home, or with other people?
    1. NOT DIFFICULT AT ALL
    2. SOMEWHAT DIFFICULT
    3. VERY DIFFICULT
    4. EXTREMELY DIFFICULT

People may think that admitting that they may be depressed or experiencing any other mental health illness makes them weak. It doesn’t! Asking for help is a very brave and self-loving thing to do.

Written by: Samantha Adjekum, LCPC.

Clarity Clinic

At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in therapy and psychiatry services. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic at (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.

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