Depressed in Beijing? Sometimes we do not know if our bad mood has gone out of the norm and become a depression.
Welcome to lesson 2.2: How do I know if I have depression? Please read lesson 2.1 if you need a refresher about what the symptoms of depression are. Today we will be speaking about self-assessment. When we speak about depression within a community or at an event, one of the most frequently asked questions is:
“I sometimes feel sad, very stressed, and depressed. But how do I know if I have depression or not?”
Do I have depression?
Online depression self-assessment tools provide great access to awareness of your mental health. Sometimes, they are called “mood-assessment tools.” The tool is often designed in the format of a questionnaire, which with your answers generates a score to determine your mood, and, accordingly, to recommend some excellent resources to help you better understand how you feel. While there are many tools available online, the quality of these platforms varies. It’s very dangerous to use tools from unknown resources as they can misguide or mislead you.
Find out about your mental state by using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)
One of the most recognized, reputable, well-researched, and widely used tools is the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ). It was designed for use in the primary care setting, but later became a public domain resource that is available without cost in several languages.
If you want to take this test, we recommend you to take the test on the website of Mental Health America, a leading community based NGO in the United States since 1909 with the mission of helping people to achieve wellness by living healthier mental lives. Here’s PHQ-9 in an online assessment friendly format.
Resources and reminders will be provided after your submission of your answers. We particularly like the remarks for results that show signs of depression: they recommend you to also take the bi-polar disorder screening to increase the accuracy of the self-assessment. It’s very important to know this, so as to consider the appropriate treatment (e.g.: medication, etc.). While the causes and effects of different psychiatric disorder are often worlds apart, their symptoms can be misleadingly similar.
Important Reminder to our Audience
Never ever trust an assessment from an unknown or unverified resource.
Self-assessment tools are not diagnostic tools, they are meant only for self-assessment.
You can use this questionnaire to monitor your moods and patterns over time but remember, it is not meant to replace a consultation with a psychologist if you are struggling.
If your score comes out alarming, please know that it’s common to experience depressive episodes in life. Our “Depression Essential Series” provides you with the fundamental knowledge you need to cope with depressive moods or episodes:
Lesson 1: an overview of depression around the world;
Lesson 2: the symptoms of depression in detail to be used as a reference for your own moods;
Lesson 3: the causes of depression in detail (looking at neurological, biological and genetic factors).
Just know that when our brains are unwell, it takes time to get recover. There is no shame in experiencing difficulties with any organ (just like our liver or lungs), brains included. Your own awareness, patience and self-love during this time will help you to heal faster.
Lastly, if you find yourself struggling alone, just know that you don’t have to struggle alone. We have a peer support group in Beijing that meets every other Tuesday, and we support each other when we go through episodes of depression, mania or anxiety.
Take a look at what Kristen Bell recently said about anxiety and depression. It's a heartfelt and informative read.