Depression Quiz - When It’s More Than Just The Blues
By Sarah Fader
Updated December 06, 2018
Everyone gets the blues. Some say a little bit of "melancholy" now and then may actually help you to appreciate the better days of life. Besides, if you don't get enough sun or enough sleep, don't eat healthy meals, and don't keep an active lifestyle, you're bound to feel down in the dumps sometimes, right?
And maybe that's why our friends and family are quick to say, "Hey guess what? Everyone feels the same way you do! All we can do is live one day at a time."
But how do you know if it's more than just the blues? What if you've consistently had episodes of severe depression and it's starting to interfere with your job, your relationship with your partner or causes other family conflicts?
Sure, you can endure it…but deep down you live in fear of how much longer it's going to go on, and how much more intense the episodes will become.
Your first instinct may be to consult a depression quiz online. Maybe a series of questions can reveal if you're moderately depressed or severely depressed.
Let's start by reading some of the most common "am I depressed quiz" questions online, such as this summary of a PsychCentral Do You Have Depression Quiz, which gives you an idea of what thoughts dominate your thinking:
- Do you have suicidal thoughts?
- Does the future seem hopeless?
- Do you get any pleasure out of life or do you feel numb?
- Do you have problems making decisions or keeping concentration?
- Do you no longer enjoy things that used to make happy?
- Does it require great effort to do simple things?
- Do you feel guilty for the past or think of yourself as a terrible person?
- Do you feel depressed even when life seems to be going well for you?
Most "are you depressed quiz" pages will point you in the direction of seeing a counselor, to have a one-on-one session to see if therapy seems right for you. If you answer "yes" or "often" to most of these questions, this demonstrates a pattern of depressive thinking…and yes, that is usually more than just the blues.
But rather than asking yourself "Do I have depression?" quiz yourself as to what kind of depression you're suffering from. For instance, let's consider whether this depression a so-called chemical imbalance or is it just due to bad circumstances.
In theory, if you could change your circumstances to a better life, better health, or the removal of some painful obstacle in your life, the depression would fade away.
This begs the far more pertinent question: Do you have situational depression and is there a realistic way to change your living situation in the near future?
What is Situational Depression and How is it Treated?
Situational depression is also called "reactive depression," which is the more common and psychologically-correct definition. According to the Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary, reactive depression is a state of mind occurring from "an intensely sad external situation," and one that may be transient, since it is caused by a stressful life event.
In this case, the depression is NOT related to a chemical imbalance, but rather major life events like the loss of a family member, divorce, job loss, sickness or financial difficulties. We "react" to our circumstances in a way that suggests depression, but these are life events that affect everybody and so one's inability to cope suggests it is beyond the "blues."
Moving on past the usual depression quizzes, when we consider situational depression (a non-chemical depression) we are asking whether the depression is physical in nature, social or psychological. Nursing Times, a journal from a nurse's point of view, suggests that most patients experiencing reactive depression will have the most common signs of a depression quiz; feelings of low self-esteem and hopelessness and these are common among patients in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals.
What's most interesting though is that physical or "chemical" depression is relegated to changing hormone or chemical levels in the brain-and these are often associated with natural aging, or pregnancy, or menopause in women.
However, hormonal and chemical problems are not the same thing as "Genetically Inclined Depression," since a family history of depression seems to relate to specifically reactive depression and only the appearance of one gene. The 5-HTT gene, to be precise. A study by Caspi and colleagues showed that those who inherit the 5-HTT are more inclined to develop severe depression after a stressful life event, and more so than the general population.
It's also been studied that people who are more inclined to be depressed have lower levels of neurotransmitters than those who are not severely depressed. Neurotransmitters include "happiness" chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. However, there chemicals don't change with fluctuating hormones, so it is not yet understood if depression changes the neurotransmitters or if the gene-influenced neurotransmitter levels cause the depression.
Drs. Bass and Illiades at EveryDayHealth.com concluded that unlike exclusively hormone-chemical depression, reactive depression usually goes away after the patient learns to adapt to the new life situation. Some may even claim a better description of the condition is an "adjustment disorder," in contrast to the despair often felt by those who can barely cope with major depression. Statistically, 30 percent of young adults and 10 percent of adults will experience reactive depression.
Counseling from a therapist is the most common and recommended treatment, and usually with minimal or no medication regiment required. The reason for the less invasive therapy is because of the transient nature of the depression, and the relatively straightforward goal of reeducating the patient on how to cope with negative moods and events.
However, it should be stated that untreated reactive depression can turn into major depression.
Therapy for Reactive Depression
When you seek counseling, your therapist may ask you some depressed quiz questions related to life events-such as when the depression first started to appear, and how your thought patterns start. He or she may try to help you find triggers that lead to depressive thought "spirals" of negativity.
According to hypnotherapists Mark Tyrrell and Roger Elliott of Uncommon Knowledge, it's usually not the event itself that causes the prolonged depression, but our way of making sense of the events and the way we explain things to ourselves. The person's interpretation of reality is flawed, and so the therapist's job is to guide the patient to a new understanding of how depressive thinking works and the patterns or "cycle" that we use that continues to keep the depression going strong.
Chemical Depression - Not as Easy to Diagnose as it Seems
What doctors tend to do is analyze the patient during a physical check up to rule out medical problems and bad lifestyle choices that may be influencing depression. From that point, he refers the patient to a psychiatrist / psychologist.
However, the idea that one is depressed because of a "chemical imbalance" is becoming an antiquated term mainly because, despite the abundance of depression quiz tests online, no one can actually explain why this chemical depression happens-except that there are some genetic anomalies noticed with the 5-HTT gene.
Pharmaceutical companies have pushed the opinion that medication corrects "imbalances," and while there have been studies that have provided recovery anecdotes, no one can actually explain what chemicals are lacking and why we need to correct them. We can accept that pregnancy, menopause and perhaps even "andropause" (lower testosterone in men) can cause bouts of depression because of hormone fluctuations…but that's not addressing the root cause of major or clinical depression.
According to neuroscientist Joseph Coyle of Harvard Medical School (quoted in Scientific American), even though a majority accept the "chemical imbalance theory", (84.7 percent by some sources) many medical experts now believe that chemical depression does not come from "neurotransmitter abnormalities"…it is probably the end result of the depression but not a true answer.
As a means of countering the argument, the journal states a drug altering a person's symptoms does not mean the symptoms were caused by any chemical imbalance and that the drug corrected an existing problem.
In similar fashion, the government website DrugAbuse.gov says neurotransmitter impact "may stimulate or dampen activity"; some drugs affect one neurotransmitter while others affect classes, while others disrupt one neurotransmitter and can affect a variety of others at the same time. Some drugs mimic neurotransmitters while others interact with the sending process, and others alter neurotransmission processes altogether.
Therefore, the most truthful perspective is that medical drug treatment is experimental and works most effectively when combined with psychological treatment. There is no predictable or mechanical standard, which is why doctors carefully observe how the medicine affects the patient and determine whether it's working or not. Some patients do not respond well to treatment, and so the prescription might have to be changed so as to better prepare the patient for the cognitive therapy he/she might need.
Dysthymia, or more commonly known as persistent-depressive disorder can be mistaken for major depression and seems to involve poor lifestyle habits, that either contribute to the depression or are exacerbated by the depression. For example, patients suffering from PDD typically do not get enough sleep, have poor eating habits, and tend to take a pessimistic view of life. The government website Medline Plus (quoting research from the Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry) states that therapists will often take a pragmatic approach-suggesting radical changes in diet, sleeping schedule, exercise routines, and improving social situations rather than suggesting heavy medication treatment.
Do You Have Bipolar Disorder and Depression?
One of the most interesting analyses of bipolar disorder comes from HelpGuide, affiliated with Harvard Health, which states that bipolar disorder is very often misunderstood. Furthermore, the stereotype of the manic high depressive low bipolar patient isn't always correct.
People with bipolar depression can live successful and "normal lives," after learning coping skills and managing symptoms. Furthermore, some are depressed more often than they are manic and the "mania" usually associated with the disorder can be mild or even go unrecognized. The disorder, as well as the fluctuations, can even go for long stretches of time and are not necessarily daily mood swings.
Bipolar disorder, which can cause symptoms of severe depression, not only affects mood but also multiple aspects of a person's life including impulse control, energy level, memory, judgment, concentration, and self-esteem.
Bipolar disorder or manic depression is not merely a constant fluctuation of happiness and depression but can consist of month-long episodes of good or bad moods. The episodes interfere with a person's ability to function but is not necessarily observable in all people the same way. It varies from person to person.
It has been observed that the disorder may be hereditary and typically occurs first in young adulthood or teenage years. This may be one reason why therapists will suggest taking an "am I depressed quiz for teens" if you are between the ages of 13 and 21. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis or no diagnosis at all only makes the disorder worsen through the years.
Bipolar "manic" phases involve episodes of heightened energy and creativity, and sometimes even a euphoric mood. They may exhibit symptoms of hyperactivity in faster speech, feelings of invincibility or even an attitude that suggests they're "destined for greatness" even if their dreams are larger than their talent. Reckless episodes typically follow these highs-and may involve getting into heavy debt, making questionable moral choices (or hypersexual lifestyle choices), or even anti-social behavior with friends and family.
Depression is the "low" of bipolar disorder, and many doctors believe it is beyond regular depression because of the episodes of mania or the milder hypomania.
According to studies by the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar is also not the "rare" condition it was once believed to be. Almost six percent of the entire American population is affected by the disorder.
Treatment studies found that lithium treatment, once predicted to have an 85% recovery rate, has recently fallen to 40-50% observable difference in patients, according to the Surgeon General Report for Mental Health.
Support group therapy also showed promise and as much as an 86 percent increase in treatment follow-up, not to mention reduced hospitalization episodes.
What is most concerning, however, is a report from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, stating that some people with the disorder suffer symptoms for almost ten years before getting an accurate diagnosis from a doctor. In addition, doctors continue to misdiagnose schizophrenia and major depression for increasingly extreme bipolar symptoms.
Don't Rely on Intuition-Get a Professional's Opinion
The worst thing a person can do if he feels a worsening case of depression is postponed a conversation about it. Ignoring the issue seems to make symptoms grow more severe since there is no plan of action to control these symptoms.
The person possibly suffering from depression or bipolar depression may not experience any particular set of symptoms…but may gradually notice problems at work, in the family or in other aspects of life that are very concerning. Symptoms could even involve hurting those who are close to you…without even realizing it.
This is why it's important for a professional mental health expert to diagnose the problem, since knowing of the disorder and the most effective ways to cope with it, is part of recommended treatment. It's not all pills…and the most recent lithium studies suggest drug treatment alone may not be enough.
This is why many counselors and therapists suggest becoming educated on different forms of a depression quiz; this free information can help the individual make changes that can help with coping and de-stressing from the problematic routines. It may also help to seek a support group of trusted friends and change your lifestyle drastically with a view towards reducing bipolar episodes based on your new routines.
This is why it's important to seek help from a licensed therapist who can help you determine what kind of depression you're dealing with, and what the least invasive or most dramatic treatment techniques might involve.
Remember that some symptoms of depression and especially bipolar depression can escalate into suicidal thoughts or urges. According to clinical studies, 50 percent of persons with BD also had a history of suicide attempts-twice that of individuals suffering from depression without bipolar disorder.
Chances are, you are the best judge of character to determine if what you feel is "more than just the blues" and may be symptoms of a serious disorder. Why not chat with a licensed counselor online right now to get a professional opinion regarding all your why am I depressed quiz questions?
Chatting with an expert can go well beyond a simple walking depression quiz and guide you towards a recovery process that works for you. Knowing the truth may help change your life for the better and once again start living life to its fullest!