Many people who are suffering from depression may not even be aware of it. The chances are that if you have been feeling sad or unhappy for more than just a couple of weeks and have lost interest in most of the activities you used to enjoy to the extent that your daily routines are now being affected, then you could be suffering from some form of depression.
There are many symptoms associated with depression and not everyone will experience the same ones nor with the same degree of intensity. Consequently, diagnosing and treating depression can be problematic as it is important to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms such as an underlying medical condition, substance abuse, or normal responses to say, bereavement, that of course will result in feelings of sadness and despondency but which are not considered true depression.
One way of finding out if you could be suffering from depression is to take a depression test. Depression tests are often used by health professionals in the first instance to assess whether depression is indicated, and if so, how severe the depression might be.
There are many tests available but one of the most popular is the Goldberg test.
The Goldberg Test
This test was designed by Dr Ivan Goldberg and consists of 18 questions, each of which are answered by the individual using a sliding scale of responses based on how they have felt during the previous week. Once all the questions are answered, the scores (in brackets) are added up to give a final score and an indication of whether depression is likely. This test can also be useful to check periodically to see if the symptoms of depression are improving or getting worse as any change of 5 points or more in either direction is considered to be significant.
Sliding scale of responses
Not at all (0)
A little (1)
Quite a lot (4)
Very much (5)
1 I do things slowly
2 My future appears hopeless
3 It is hard for me to concentrate on reading
4 The pleasure and fun has gone out of my life
5 I find it hard to make decisions
6 I have lost interest in things that used to be important to me
7 I feel unhappy, depressed and sad
8 I feel agitated and unable to relax
9 I feel tired
10 It takes a lot of effort for me to do simple things
11 I feel guilty and I deserve to be punished
12 I feel like a failure
13 I feel numb and lifeless, more dead than alive
14 My sleep is disturbed; I'm sleeping too much or too little
15 I spend time thinking HOW I can commit suicide
16 I feel trapped or confined
17 I feel depressed even when good things happen to me
18 I have lost weight or put it on without being on a diet
If your score was less than 9 then depression is not indicated.
Between 10 and 17 - possibly some minor depression
Between 18 and 21 - maybe on the verge of depression
Between 22 and 35 - minor to moderate depression indicated
Between 36 and 53 - moderate to severe depression possible
Over 54 - possibly suffering from severe depression
The Beck Depression Inventory Test
Another popular test is the Beck Depression Inventory test often used by mental health professionals. This test is based on 21 self-reported questions that correspond closely to the symptoms of depression as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition. Each response is based on how the individual has felt over the previous two weeks. All of the responses to the questions are identified by a score of 0, 1, 2 or 3, which are then added together at the end to give a final score.
The answers to the questions are intended to give an indication of how a person views how they are functioning psychologically and physically, and how they appear to be coping on a daily basis. For example, responses will give an idea of:
o How sad you are feeling
o How you view the future
o If you feel like a failure
o Your level of satisfaction from activities
o If you feel guilty
o If you feel deserving of punishment
o How disappointed you are in yourself
o If you often blame yourself
o Whether you have thoughts of suicide
o How often you cry
o If you feel irritated and annoyed a lot of the time
o How much interest you have in other people and social situations
o Your ability to make decisions
o How you view yourself and your appearance
o Your ability to carry out your work
o Your sleeping patterns
o Your energy levels
o Your appetite
o Any weight fluctuations
o If you are fearful or worry about physical symptoms and health
o If you have lost interest in sex
It's important to remember that no test, no matter how good it is, can give you a reliable diagnosis. If you think you or someone close to you are experiencing symptoms of depression then you should seek professional advice either from a GP or other health professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate help. Your GP will be able to discuss symptoms with you in much more detail and will be able to identify other factors that might be influencing how you are feeling. Once an accurate diagnosis is made then treatment options can be discussed that will help get you back to how you used to be.