Major depression affects roughly one in 15 Americans. Yet this common mental disorder is frequently misunderstood. Because we value traits like happiness and energy, depression is sometimes incorrectly viewed as sadness, laziness, or even selfishness—even by those who may be suffering from it.
That’s too bad, because today’s treatments for depression are more effective and precisely targeted than ever.
To tell whether you may have major depression, or have had it in the past, try this simple quiz:
Part One: Are you “down in the dumps” for weeks at a time?
Over a two-week period, have you felt “down” or uninterested in your usual activities—for most of the time, on most days?
If you can honestly answer no to this question, then you probably won’t be diagnosed with major depression. But you should know that having some symptoms of major depression may be a sign of disorders that are also serious and treatable. See Part Three for more info.
Part Two: Do you have any four of these symptoms?
Take a look through the list of symptoms below:
- Trouble getting to sleep or feeling sleepy during the day
- Feeling mentally or physically restless and agitated—or, on the flip side, mentally or physically sluggish
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Being tired or feeling like you have no energy
- Weight loss or gain
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of suicide
If you’ve experienced four or more of these symptoms—on most days, over those same two weeks we talked about in Part One—you may have major depression. And you should speak soon to someone who can help, especially if thoughts of suicide made your list.
Part Three: What if it’s not major depression, but you still feel bad?
If you have some of the symptoms above, but not enough for a diagnosis of major depression, you may have another treatable form of depression, such as:
- Bipolar disorder, with periods of depression swinging to high-energy mania
- Situational depression, resulting from a loss or other disruptive event
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depression-like disorder that happens around the same time every year
Whatever your symptoms of mind or mood, suffering in silence doesn’t help. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They’ll have solutions and strategies that can get you feeling like yourself again.