I'm Blue, Soooo Blue (Depression, part 3) ~ Coaching 4 Health & Wellness

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm Blue, Soooo Blue (Depression, part 3)

Remember, everyone gets depressed at some time, but not everyone gets depression. Depression comes in many forms. Yesterday we talked about degrees of reactions to change. The same occurs in all symptoms of depression. The sympoms tend to run on a continuum: eating too much to not eating at all, or somewhere inbetween.

The Diagnositic and Statiscitcal Manual (DSM-IV-TR), which is the "bible" of diagnostic symptoms for mental health professionals, lists the symptoms of depression. According to the different levels, intensities, and symptoms, there are over 200 different combinations for depression.

The symptoms of major depression can be divided into three categories:

  1. Disturbances of emotion and mood.

  2. Changes in the "housekeeping" functions of the brain - those that regulate sleep, appetite, energy and sexual function.

  3. Disturbances of thinking and concentration.

Some of the most common symptoms of clinical depression include:

  • loss of interest or pleasure in ordinary pleasurable activities, including sex.
  • chronically sad or empty mood.
  • irritability or excessive crying.
  • social withdrawal or isolation.
  • changes in energy levels, fatigue, feeling slowed down, slowed movements.
  • agitated actions (pacing, hand-wringing, etc.)
  • sleep disturbances (insomnia, early morning waking, or sleeping too much).
  • changes in eating habits (loss of appetite, significant weight loss or weight gain).
  • difficulty with focus or concentration, impaired memory, difficulty in making decisions.
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness.
  • feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • increase in addictive behavior.
  • thoughts and/or talk of death and suicide.
  • suicide attempts.
  • chronic aches and pains that don't respond to treatment.

If some of these seem to apply to you, then think about them in terms of these three words - number, duration and intensity.

1) Number. The symptoms of depression are "additive" - that is, the greater the number of symptoms you have, the more likely you are to be clinically depressed. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV), five or more of these symptoms should be present for a person or someone close to that person to consider him or herself "clinically depressed."

2) Duration. The longer you have been down in the dumps, the more likely it is that you are clinically depressed. According to the DSM IV, the five or more symptoms must exist for at least two weeks for a diagnosis of major depression to be made.

3) Intensity. Many of us can feel emotional pain and still cope with our daily existence. Some experiences of depression are within the normal course of living. The pain of major depression can be so great, however, that its intensity (along with the number and duration of symptoms) can significantly impair one's ability to cope.

If you feel like you are clinically depressed, GREAT! You know what you can do, talk to your primary physician or make an appointment with a mental health professional (psychiatrist, counselor, psychologist) to get started on a treatment plan. You can also go to one of these sites to assess your level of depression and share this information with your physician or MHP:
Zung Self Rated Depression Scale
Mayo Clinic Depression Screening
Psych Central Depression Quiz

Keep in mind these are SCREENING tools only and NOT a substitution for a thorough examination by your physician and/or MHP.

Remember, there is HELP and there is HOPE!

Next up: Treatment options.

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