Do I Have Depression?
We'll cut to the chase. You're probably trying to figure out if you or a loved one has depression and if so, what you should do about it. Buzzfeed surveys or quizzes are inaccurate, flawed, and can give misleading results. These kinds of depression surveys often don't give you any useful information, and instead, just confirm what you already know. But you need answers and most importantly, you need to know what you need to do next.
To avoid any confusion or ambiguity, we've included in this post the gold standard clinical evaluation for determining clinical depression and its severity. It's called the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, sometimes referred to as "HAM-D"
or "HDRS". This is the evaluation used to supplement professional mental healthcare workers, such as neurologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and others.
Click the download button below, or click here to view the pdf in your web browser. After downloading the HAM-D, follow the instructions and rate each symptom category. It's essential that you be completely honest with yourself. You're looking for the truth so you know exactly what to do going forward.
Don't give yourself a low symptom score because you're ashamed of or don't want to admit how severe it is. But also don't exaggerate the severity of a symptom. If you don't know what to select, ask a close friend or family member for their honest opinion.
If you are suicidal or are worried you might become so, call the suicide hotline: 800-273-8255. They also have chat options if that is easier for you. They can and will help. If you know someone who is suicidal or has a plan to end their life, call 911 immediately, and stay with this person.
Based on your results, here's what we would suggest:
If you marked "2", "3" or "4" on question #3 about suicide, find help immediately, including the suicide hotline above or even 911.
Very Severe Depression - Find help immediately. Call a family member, close friend, or call the suicide hotline if needed. Hope and healing is always possible.
Severe Depression - Call a therapist or doctor today. Get in as soon as you can. You can start feeling better sooner than you think. If you're already meeting with a therapist or doctor, ask about TMS therapy, Alpha-stim therapy, and vagus nerve stimulation therapy. There's a lot your therapist or doctor could have you start doing today to take the edge off of the symptoms. That might be just enough to get the ball rolling so you can start taking bigger actions that will yield bigger results.
Moderate Depression - Find a therapist or doctor and schedule an appointment. Talk to them about all your treatment options. There is always one that will work for you and your unique situation. Inform a close friend or family member and ask them if you can keep them updated on how you're doing. It's important to have that lifeline in case things get worse.
Mild Depression - Still find a therapist or doctor to start meeting with. If you can find the motivation, try getting outside more, get sunlight, start doing some light exercises. There are a lot of things you can begin to implement today that will help. In a lot of cases, some simple lifestyle changes combined with therapy and/or medication can yield great results. Just take that first step.
Normal - Look into ways to help your mind and body process stress and difficult times. You can help prevent depression by eating healthy, getting exercise daily, and fostering uplifting supportive relationships. Then turn outwards and seek to help others. You might be the friend they need in the dark times.
If there's anything we've learned from over a decade of clinical experience, built upon the shoulders of all the great neuroscientists, neurologists, and psychiatrists that came before us, it's that THERE IS HOPE. Your brain is incredible, and even though it might be suffering right now, it has an incredible capacity to change, heal, and thrive. It just needs help and support. It needs you to be strong and to make those little decisions that will slowly but surely start the process of healing. This isn't something you have to deal with forever, because your brain can heal. You can heal. What if the joy and peace you want to feel is totally and completely possible? What would you do today if that hope was just strong enough to initiate a small action? How would that change your view on your current circumstances? We know how it would. But more importantly, YOU know.
To stay updated on all things neuroscience, sign up for NeuroNews.