Questions Doctors Ask When Screening For Depression
Mental health professionals rely on a number of screening tools to accurately diagnose depression. Here’s a peek at the questions they ask so you can assess your own risk.
Not everyone experiences the same warning signs of depression. Some people may endure sadness, hopelessness, feelings of guilt others may lose interest in their favorite activities, have trouble thinking clearly, or face fatigue and changes in their sleeping or eating patterns. Thats why diagnosing depression isnt always easy and why doctors have developed a number of screening tools to help determine if you are at risk.
“Diagnosing depression requires a complete history and physical exam, says Richard Shadick, PhD, associate adjunct professor of psychology and director of the counseling center at Pace University in New York City. Doctors must also rule out medical problems such as thyroid disease and consider coexisting emotional health issues issues like anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress, and substance abuse.
What goes into a depression screening? “There are many types of depression scales and depression screens, explains Shadick. The questions asked look for common symptoms as well as how much these symptoms might be affecting a person’s ability to function and maintain relationships.”
Which Depression Screening Will Your Doctor Use?
The Type of Questions Your Doctor Will Ask
Here are some typical questions from a few of the more common depression screening scales:
Am I Avoiding Something Or Someone Right Now
When I am in a good place, and I sense that Im starting to slip, I often find its because Im procrastinating or avoiding something important.
Whether its confronting someone about a difficult issue or tackling something on your to-do list, completing the task will help to clear your mind and make you feel more at ease. It wont ever get done if you ignore it! It may seem daunting now, but when its done, youll feel better.
What Time Of Day Is Hardest For You
This question may give those who are within your loved ones support circle an idea when to check in.
For example, getting out of bed in the morning and starting the day is most difficult for some people. For others, its coming home in the evening when they may be alone.
Whenever it is, you can use that time frame of when your loved one may feel most vulnerable to send a short text, call them, or invite them out for something low-key, like a walk.
In the event that you have to communicate with a mental health professional for your loved one, youll also have some details for diagnostic criteria to share.
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What Do You Think Is Making You Feel So Bad Right Now
Emotional causes can also be to blame for the onset of depression. Sometimes past events in a person’s life can still be alive in their mind or body. Even though they may have no idea what’s making them depressed, those events could be affecting the person you love under the surface of their awareness.
Alcohol Tobacco And Other Drugs
The misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, and prescription medications affect the health and well-being of millions of Americans. SAMHSAs 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 19.3 million people aged 18 or older had a substance use disorder in the past year.
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What Is A Depression Questionnaire
A depression questionnaire is a set of depression screening questions asked to gather information that will give you insights into a person mental health and well being.
Good mental health and well being improve the quality of life. In the current fast-paced world, stress is a major factor that is affecting people all across the globe. Major corporations have started using mindfulness and meditation techniques to reduce work stress on their employees. Depression affects people in many ways and can have various symptoms. They can range from mild to severe. Mild depression can mean you are simply feeling low in spirit, while severe depression can have fatal thoughts like being suicidal or feeling that your life has no meaning to it. There has been an increase in such cases in recent years and hence it has become quite important to identify depression at an early stage and tackle the issue appropriately.
For example, a person has been laid-off by a company and it is getting very difficult to find a new job. Because of such an incident, the individual has started feeling hopeless, low self-esteem, and has a lack of sleep. Such bad times can make an individual feel they have been a failure and can cause severe depression. In such a case, a depression questionnaire can help to assess the severity of their condition and thus appropriate actions can be taken to cure depression.
Can I Ask Therapist Questions
Yes, you can. No questions are not valid during therapy sessions. You may also make a list of questions you want to ask pertaining to the sessions and your concerns. Moreso, it is okay to ask personal questions, but keep in mind that your therapist also has the right to privacy and may limit their answers. It is always better to ask first before assuming. However, it is also possible your therapist will not or cannot give answers to some questions for different reasons.
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What Else Can I Try As A Tool Or Resource
Whether its a support group, app, online community, or mental health professional, there are plenty of tools out there to help you get through hard days. If one resource doesnt work for you, try another. Keep track of how youre feeling when you test out different tools so that you know what is helping you and what isnt.
Well, there you have it. Congrats on making it down the list! I hope these questions have helped you as much as much as they have helped me over the years. Dont be afraid to revisit them and your answers on a consistent basis.
For more information on how to manage depression, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
NPS-US-NP-00599 MARCH 2020
Recognizing Depression Symptoms In A Loved One
Family and friends are often the first line of defense in the fight against depression. Thats why its important to understand the signs and symptoms of depression. You may notice the problem in a depressed loved one before they do, and your influence and concern can motivate them to seek help.
Be concerned if your loved one:
Doesnt seem to care about anything anymore. Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities. Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.
Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life. Is uncharacteristically sad, irritable, short-tempered, critical, or moody talks about feeling helpless or hopeless.
Frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain. Or complains of feeling tired and drained all the time.
Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps. Has become indecisive, forgetful, disorganized, and out of it.
Eats more or less than usual, and has recently gained or lost weight.
Drinks more or abuses drugs, including prescription sleeping pills and painkillers, as a way to self-medicate how theyre feeling.
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Ask The Expert: Common Questions About Depression
1. How common is depression?
About 4% of the population has what we call major depressive disorder, the most severe kind of depression, at any one time. Less severe depressions are probably more common. It is important to note that everyone gets a low mood at times, but most pull out of this within a couple of days.
2. What are the major symptoms of depression?
Common symptoms of more severe depressions include depressed mood , appetite changes either increased or decreased, sleep changes either more sleep such as taking naps after sleeping all night, or decreased sleep. Decreased motivation to do things and decreased enjoyment of things that usually are enjoyable is also very common.
Anxiety and depression seem to go together so many people notice an increase in worries and feeling like they cant stop thinking about things that are problems. Others might notice that the depressed individual is very negative about almost everything, even things that most people would see as positives.
Of course, we worry a lot about suicidal ideation. If someone has suicidal thoughts, it is vitally important that they tell someone they trust, call a suicide hotline or their physician and get assistance. Depressions will always go away with treatment eventually and it is tragic when someone ends their life when treatment may have been lifesaving.
How Can I Take Care Of Myself
Once you begin treatment, you should gradually start to feel better. Go easy on yourself during this time. Try to do things you used to enjoy. Even if you dont feel like doing them, they can improve your mood. Other things that may help:
- Try to get some physical activity. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood.
- Try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
- Eat regular, healthy meals.
- Do what you can as you can. Decide what must get done and what can wait.
- Try to connect with other people, and talk with people you trust about how you are feeling.
- Postpone important life decisions until you feel better.
- Avoid using alcohol, nicotine, or drugs, including medications not prescribed for you.
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What If I Don’t Know What To Say
Don’t wait to talk just because you’re not sure what to say. You can keep it simple. You can start just by saying, “Got a minute? I need to talk.” Then say what’s on your mind. For example, “I’ve been feeling down a lot lately. I think I should talk to you about it.” The person you’re talking to might ask you to tell them more. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get started talking.
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If someone is seriously depressed they may need professional intervention.
If the person you love never gets out of bed, hoards pills , never eats, sleeps poorly or too much, self medicates, or shows signs of other self-destructive behavior, it may be time to take action. Call doctors, hospitals, mental health services to get advice on what to do next.
Finally, the ultimate question to ask someone struggling with depression is this …
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Is There Anything You Want To Talk About
Sometimes people just need assurance that its OK to bring up tough subjects or topics that go a little deeper.
This can help the conversation move from superficial subjects to something a little more meaningful if the other person wants.
If they arent interested in talking about anything, dont pry. Instead, let them know youre willing to listen if they ever do want to talk.
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Continue Supporting Them And Respond To Emergencies
On a bad day, your friend might not want to leave their room. If they say something like Im going to cancel my appointment today, encourage them to follow through with the appointment.
Whether or not your friend has decided to get professional help, its important that they know they can get support from you, or other friends and family.
If you think your friend may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, seek help from a trusted adult or emergency mental health service immediately. Call 000 to reach emergency services and also tell someone you trust.
In more serious cases, its important to let an older/more responsible adult know whats going on. You dont have to be perfect all the time and making mistakes are inevitable and a good thing as we can learn from them. Anzelmo
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How Can You Determine If An Illness Is Causing Depression Or Depression Is Causing An Illness
Illnesses that can lead to depression are usually major, chronic, and/or terminal. When an illness is causing depression, there is often long-term pain or physical disability present or there is a sudden change in lifestyle.
Depression causes illness in a different way. Like psychological stress, it can weaken the immune system , allowing a person to get more colds or the flu. There is often a notable presence of “aches and pains” with no particular cause. Having depression may also cause the symptoms of another medical illness to last longer and intensify its symptoms, but the true relationship of depression-induced illness, in terms of major disease, has not been thoroughly defined.
It is important to seek the advice of your doctor if you think you or someone you know may have depression. Your primary care doctor is a good place to start. They can screen you for depression and develop a treatment plan to help manage your symptoms.
How Can Talking To A Parent Help
It can feel like a big relief to have someone listen, hear you out, and show they care. Talking together can help you feel more hopeful. It lets you know you’re not alone. Someone believes in you and has your back.
Sometimes, a parent can help you see another angle to a problem you’re dealing with. They can give good advice. When you feel their support, it’s easier to think of ways to help yourself, too.
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When Is The Best Time To Check In With You Again
You dont want to force your way into someones life by saying, Im going to call you several times a day. Annoying them wont encourage the person to talk.
But you can ask them when its OK to follow up. Let them know youd like to check in with them. Whether they want you to call another day or in a couple of weeks, its OK. Just make sure to show youre sincere by following up and doing what you say.
Questions Our Friends Might Ask About Depression And How To Answer Them
Talking about depression with our friends can be difficult. Though we know they have our best interests in heart, their knowledge and understanding about depression might be limited. They also may have questions they want to ask us which when were in the thick of our illness we might not feel equipped to answer.
Feeling prepared can make us feel more confident, so in this blog we share some questions friends may ask us about depression and answers we might want to offer. We hope these are helpful.
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What Am I Doing To Invest In My Health
Even if youre focused on your health, staying committed on a daily basis can feel overwhelming when youre juggling multiple things. Are you keeping up with your treatment plan? Do you need to create a treatment plan? Taking care of yourself is work and optimal health is the result of making the right lifestyle changes and working closely with your healthcare team to find a symptom management plan that works for you.
Can A Lack Of Sleep Cause Depression
No. Lack of sleep alone cannot cause depression, but it does play a role. Lack of sleep resulting from another medical illness or the presence of personal problems can intensify depression. Chronic inability to sleep is also an important clue that someone may be depressed.
Common triggers of depression include:
- Family history of depression.
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
- Major life events such as moving, graduating or retiring, etc.
- Serious illness. Major, chronic, and terminal illnesses often contribute to depression. These include cancer, heart disease, stroke, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and others.
- Substance abuse. Street drugs or heavy alcohol use can cause mood changes that mimic depression or other mood disorders. In addition, some people with substance abuse problems also may have depression, bipolar disorder, or other mood problems even when they are not using mood-altering substances.
- Being socially isolated or excluded from family, friends, or other social groups.
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Can You Think Of Anything Contributing To What Youre Experiencing
This can be a very gentle way of allowing your loved one to arrive at their own conclusions for why theyre experiencing a depressive episode. It lets them have their revelation on their terms without any leading or presumptive remarks.
This might also be a good time to ask whether theyd like to talk with a mental health professional.
Just dont push or ask about sensitive experiences that may make your loved one feel exposed, or anxious to come up with something.
For most people, its not one thing that triggers a depressive episode. There are many triggers or reasons that cause or worsen depression.
And remember, for many people, theres nothing tangible that can explain why they feel the way they feel, and thats OK.