October 11

How Do I Know If I’m Depressed?

depressionThere are a variety of types of depression, some leaving individuals basically unable to function at all and others that, while not being as severe, are still serious and distressing.  One way to think of them is to consider them as falling under one of two headings:  a “lying down depression” or “a walking around” depression.  While these categories are not found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition; hereafter DSM V), the descriptions and symptom lists that follow are in the manual.

Lying down depressions are hard to miss: people typically know that something is very wrong, although they may come to wrong conclusions, i.e., they blame themselves, circumstances, or others for their misery.  Included under this heading are diagnoses such as Major Depressive Disorder or Bipolar Disorder.

The walking around depressions include Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymia), Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.  I’ll translate and elaborate on a couple of these in this post.

Dysthymia involves two or more of the following symptoms: poor appetite or overeating, sleeping too much or too little, low energy or fatigue, low self-esteem, poor concentration or difficulty making decisions, and feelings of hopelessness.  To be diagnosed with dysthymia, the symptoms have to be present for most of the day and for more days than not for at least two years.  But people begin to experience the painful symptoms from day one and are often diagnosed as suffering from an Other Specified Depressive Disorder until two years have passed.  Hopefully, with proper treatment, the dysthymia never lasts for two years.What sets dysthymia apart from grieving or sadness are at least two factors: loss of self-esteem and significant distress and impairment in social, occupational, academic, or any other important area in the person’s life.

You can take a quick test for depression at Psych Central.

The other diagnosis to be discussed here is Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, a disorder found in children between the ages of six and eighteen.  DSM V describes the two essential features of this diagnosis: (1) frequent outbursts of anger, and (2) a consistent irritable or angry mood between outbursts.  The outbursts are not age appropriate (what is expected in a four-year-old, for example, is not appropriate for a 14-year-old). The anger can be verbal or physical and the angry mood must be present most of the day for almost every day.  There are other criteria for this diagnosis to be made but these symptoms are typical.  If it doesn’t meet the criteria for this diagnosis, it can also be diagnosed as an Other Specified Depressive Disorder.

DSM V states:

In order to address concerns about the potential for the overdiagnosis of and treatment for bipolar disorder in children, a new diagnosis . . . referring to the presentation of children with persistent irritability and frequent episodes of extreme behavior dyscontrol, is added to the depressive diorders for children up to 12 years of age.”

For an accurate diagnosis, see a mental health professional.  Do not self-diagnose based on what can be found online – including this post.  There are other symptoms and criteria to be considered in making any diagnosis.