Are You Suffering from Depression?

Free, confidential depression test.

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What is depression?

When people say they feel depressed it’s often interpreted to mean they are feeling low, blue, sad, unmotivated, uninspired, and/or empty. Depression is a very common mental health disorder. According to the NIMH, every year nearly 20 million Americans will report experiencing a depressive episode. Fortunately, mental health professionals are able to help reduce the impact depressive disorders have through some combination of talk therapy, medication, and targeted lifestyle changes. In a clinical sense, depression refers to eight defined mood disorders, the most common of which are Major Depressive Disorder (aka Clinical Depression), Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD). The main differences between these types of depression are the duration of symptoms, the timing of the symptoms, and what triggers the symptoms.
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What are common signs and symptoms of depression?

The signs and symptoms of depression are individualized and vary from person to person. Depending on factors like age and sex, depression could look very different. Depression can even look and feel different in the same person from one episode to the next. With that in mind, the most common signs and symptoms of depression include: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness Noticeable changes in sleeping patterns Changes in appetite (with or without weight changes) Decreased energy Reduced interest in activities or hobbies Feeling or appearing sped up or slowed down Poor concentration and decision-making Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and low self-esteem Thoughts of death, dying, and suicide
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What are common treatments for depression?

Treatments for depression include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments. Treatments are tailored to each person based on the types of symptoms they are experiencing, as well as the severity and duration of those symptoms.  Talk therapy is at the frontline of treatment for depression and can occur in individual, group, or family therapy sessions. When therapy is working well, it will quickly and effectively reduce the depression symptoms of the individual in treatment. Depending on the level of depression, complete remission of symptoms is possible, but others may only hope to decrease the harmful aspects of their ongoing symptoms. Medication is another standard treatment option for depression and can be used alone or in combination with other treatments, like therapy. People typically receive medication for depression from their psychiatrist, primary care physician, or nurse practitioner.  Life style changes can also be part of the treatment of depression. While these lifestyle changes on their own may not resolve depression, they can add to the benefits of professional strategies like therapy. Some changes include increasing exercise, improving diet, getting regular sleep, and limiting the use of recreational drugs and alcohol. 
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Self-Assessment vs. Diagnosis

A self-assessment tool (aka quiz, online test, self-test) is not intended to be used as a diagnostic tool, nor is it capable of making a diagnosis. A diagnosis is only possible to obtain after the appropriate medical and/or mental health professionals have done a thorough evaluation. A diagnosis is given in the context of all relevant personal- and family-history information. In other words, a self-assessment tool lacks the sophistication and context to make a diagnosis. If you suspect you're living with a mental health disorder, or experiencing the symptoms of a disorder, seek a consultation with a mental health professional or trusted physician. It is important to note that, in many cases, a diagnosis is required to have the cost of treatments (psychotherapy, medication, etc) covered by insurance. Self-assessment tools can serve as a helpful starting place for those experiencing unwanted thoughts or behaviors that are beginning to have negative impacts on their daily life and relationships. A self-assessment tool, such as those found on Choosing Therapy, are helpful to the extent that they encourage people to begin a conversation and relationship with a mental health professional. Taking the first step of contacting a counselor or therapist is a courageous one. Working with a mental health professional can lead to a better understanding of your thoughts and behaviors, developing healthy coping strategies and techniques to better manage unwanted thoughts and behaviors, and reducing the negative impact of those thoughts and behaviors on your life and relationships.
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