As a nation-wide crisis, depressive disorders like major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder affect almost 20 million people in the U.S. every year. Depression is the leading cause of disability for people ages 15–44. Although depression is one of the most well-known mental health conditions, more can be done to help people understand how to recognize signs of depression in themselves and their loved ones.
Depression screening is important because mental wellness matters just as much as physical health because your psychological well-being affects every area of your life. Depression screening tests for signs and symptoms are every bit as important as testing for physical illnesses.
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Benefits of Screening for Depression
Some people may think that the benefits of depression screening are minimal. They may assume that every person with depression knows about the condition and fully understands the impact it has. In reality, many people experience symptoms without realizing depression is the culprit.
The benefits of depression screening by physicians, mental health experts and school staff are numerous. It’s important to receive a depression screening because:
- Identifying a mental health disorder early can slow its progress
- Addressing depression can improve a person’s physical health
- By acknowledging the problem, helpful treatments can begin
- Anyone can experience depression at any point in life
- Social stigma surrounding mental illnesses discourages people from getting help
- Mental health conditions like depression can lead to drug and alcohol abuse
- Untreated depression can lead to suicide
Depression tests can be the first step toward getting help and living a healthier life.
Depression Screening Tools
Anyone spending any time online has stumbled across an online depression screening or a depression self-assessment, and although these tools can be helpful, they may not be as accurate as medical or in-person screenings. Online assessments depend on the self-report of the person with depressive symptoms and lack the professional interpretation of an expert.
Symptoms of depression are quite vague and can be open to interpretation. What could be classified as depressed to one person could be typical functioning for someone else. Only a mental health professional can accurately and consistently identify the symptoms of depression in a person.
During a professional depression screening, the expert will ask a series of depression screening questions based on the various symptoms of depression. Along the way, the expert will ask other questions to rule out other mental health and medical health conditions that mirror signs of depression.
Depending on the situation, professionals may use written depression screening tools and tests to measure the severity of the condition. Beck’s Depression Inventory is a widely-used depression measure used by professionals each day.
Who Should Take a Depression Screening Test?
Mental health disorders do not discriminate. Anyone can develop depression, regardless of their age, ethnicity or background. However, depression is more common among people who:
- Have a family history of mental illness
- Have another mental health condition like anxiety
- Struggle with a substance use disorder, like drug addiction or alcoholism
- Recently experienced a stressful life change or traumatic event
If you or someone you love experiences any of the common risk factors and warning signs associated with depression, you could benefit from taking an online or in-person depression screening test. These factors and symptoms can include:
- Low mood or increased irritability
- Feeling empty or numb
- Loss of energy or motivation
- Loss of interest in regular or recreational activities
- Feelings of guilt, restlessness, hopelessness, worthlessness or fear
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Changes in appetite or eating behavior
- Poor concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
Utilizing specific depression screening tools for adults or teen depression screening tests can help to further identify those in need.
National Depression Screening Day
Each year, during the first full week of October, the U.S. recognizes Mental Illness Awareness Week. Increasing the visibility of mental health disorders and taking note of the impact mental health issues have on each person can help make a cultural shift toward understanding and stigmatization.
With the increased attention on mental health and well-being during the awareness week, many people participate in events to raise money and share information about all psychological disorders. Increased mental health recognition can lead to reduced mental health stigma, and encourage people to seek help when necessary.
Stigmas are harmful and unfair judgments made about people belonging to a certain group. For example, people who express that everyone with depression is “crazy” or “lazy” is passing along an inaccurate stigma.
Since 1990, National Depression Screening Day has been a cornerstone of the awareness week. Taking place on October 10, 2019, National Depression Screening Day is a fantastic opportunity to get connected to experts who can quickly test your mental health or the psychological needs of your loved one.
This screening is an occasion to get the treatment you need to stop the influence of depression and other mental illnesses on your health and happiness. By getting screened in 2019, you help ensure that depression will have a smaller impact in 2020 and beyond.
If substance use has become the cause or effect of your depression, don’t wait until National Depression Screen Day. Help is available today. The Recovery Village offers dual diagnosis treatment program, or a program that addresses both substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders simultaneously. To learn more about co-occurring disorder treatment, call The Recovery Village today.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Facts and Statistics.” Accessed September 13, 2019. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Illness Awareness Week. Accessed September 20, 2019. Mental Health America. “National Depression Screening Day.” Accessed September 20, 2019. Indiana State Medical Association. “Beck’s Depression Inventory.” Accessed September 20, 2019.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Facts and Statistics.” Accessed September 13, 2019.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental Illness Awareness Week. Accessed September 20, 2019.
Mental Health America. “National Depression Screening Day.” Accessed September 20, 2019.
Indiana State Medical Association. “Beck’s Depression Inventory.” Accessed September 20, 2019.