The Depression Questionnaire

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In the 1960s, Dr. Aaron T. Beck, a psychiatrist, pioneered the therapeutic treatment Cognitive Therapy (CT), also known as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). CBT aims to help people who are struggling with negative thoughts (e.g., “I am a total failure!”) and maladaptive behaviors (e.g., sleeping too much, isolating from friends and family), which typically accompany clinical depression. CBT can help people struggling with these thoughts and behaviors by teaching them new skills in order to feel better. Understanding that depression has many different signs and symptoms that can range from mild to severe, Dr. Beck created the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), which he designed to help people assess severity of the various symptoms of depression and identify the depth of their depression.

Since then, many other inventories and questionnaires for depression have been developed. Some of them (as with the one below) are aligned to the nine primary criteria for depression outlined in the DSM-5.

This allows you to get a sense of the symptoms needed to be diagnosed with depression, how severely you may be experiencing them, and the total impact/severity of the depression, and it may help you determine whether or not to seek professional help.

The quiz below is the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Take this quiz now to get a better sense of your level of depression at the moment. Each question has four choices; write the number corresponding to the answer that suits you best on the line next to each question. You can take this test again in the future—either on a regular basis while reading this book, or at a minimum, after finishing the book and completing all the exercises, to see if the level of your depression has changed.

PATIENT HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE (PHQ-9)

This depression quiz is self-scored. The scoring scale is at the end of this quiz.

Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems?

1.Little interest or pleasure in doing things?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

2.Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

3.Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

4.Feeling tired or having little energy?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

5.Poor appetite or overeating?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

6.Feeling bad about yourself—or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

7.Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

8.Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed? Or the opposite—being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

9.Thoughts that you would be better off dead, or of hurting yourself in some way?

  • 0Not at all
  • 1Several days
  • 2More than half the days
  • 3Nearly every day

Scoring: Total all the points that correspond to the statements you chose. Write this number in the space provided. (The highest total is 27 points and the lowest is 0 points.)

My score:_______ /27

How to Interpret Your Score on the PHQ-9:

  • 0–4 points: no depression
  • 4–9 points: mild depression
  • 10–14 points: moderate depression
  • 15–19 points: moderately severe depression
  • 20–27 points: severe depression

If you scored question 9 with anything other than zero points, please seek immediate professional help. Scoring between 15 to 27 points generally warrants active treatment with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Does your score reflect your current mood? Why or why not? Did any of your answers to these questions surprise you? Why or why not?

Identify Your Issues

Depression can manifest in many different ways and at varying levels of severity. It may also be accompanied by other conditions such as panic disorder, anxiety, ADHD, and substance abuse disorders, which are subtypes of depression; we’ll look at those separately a little later in this chapter. In this section, let’s look at conditions that people generally think of when they hear the term depression. These conditions include major depressive disorder (a.k.a. clinical depression), dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder), bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression. Regardless of the specific type of depression you’re coping with, using this workbook can go a long way in helping you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER (CLINICAL DEPRESSION)

A person who experiences major depressive disorder (also known as major depression or clinical depression and sometimes simply called depression) has a down mood and/or a decreased desire to engage in their daily tasks. To qualify as clinical depression, this change in mood and/or desire must persist for a minimum of two weeks and be accompanied by several other symptoms (mentioned here through here). The depressed or low mood and the resultant behavior differ markedly from how someone behaves when they’re feeling their best.

People who are experiencing clinical depression must also report that the depression is causing problems in their work life, social interactions with friends, home responsibilities, and/or their academic career. Their significant shift in mood undoubtedly changes how they behave. For example, a student who has major depression may notice a dramatic drop in grades. This same individual might isolate from friends by declining social invitations.

PERSISTENT DEPRESSIVE DISORDER (DYSTHYMIA)

The symptoms of persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia, are similar to major depression but tend to linger on for months at a time. The symptoms generally are milder, though they affect the person over a period of years as opposed to the shorter periods associated with a major depressive episode.

The level of intensity of the depressive symptoms experienced by someone with dysthymia can radically differ over the years; however, the hallmarks—low self-esteem, trouble with sleep, low energy or fatigue, appetite changes, poor concentration, and feelings of hopelessness—must not entirely go away for more than two months.

Along with dysthymia, depressive episodes can co-occur, meaning that you can experience this low-grade feeling of depression along with a major depressive episode. In this particular case, it is commonly called double depression.

 

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