Letting the Light In: Understanding and Navigating Depression

Depression is more than just a bad day – moody or sad feelings lasting more than two weeks may be a tell-tale sign. It can isolate you from others, sap your energy, steal your joy, and create a general disinterest in activities you used to enjoy. As National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, October is a time to spotlight depression and emphasizes the importance of getting mental health screenings to identify and treat any mental health-related problems. 

A mental health screening is an important tool your doctor can use to understand your emotional state. The doctor will ask you questions and note your mood, behavior, thinking, reasoning, memory, and how well you express yourself. Sometimes, mental health assessments will also include blood or urine tests. These tests allow doctors to gain insight into your overall mood and can be used to help diagnose depression. You may be asked to complete a document called a PHQ-9. This is a short survey that can identify if you have symptoms of depression.

So how can you tell if you are depressed? For older adults, your doctor will ask you questions about your health, feelings, and possible thoughts of suicide. Your doctor may also perform a physical exam and run tests to make sure your depression isn’t caused by another medical problem. For instance, signs of a stroke, dementia, underactive thyroid, or vitamin B12 deficiency anemia may cause depression.

For children and teenagers, doctors implement depression screenings during routine checkups. Patients complete forms about the child’s symptoms and review the responses with their doctor. To learn more, the doctor may ask additional questions regarding  changes in mood, changes in  interest in activities, changes in appetite, weight fluctuations, sleep problems, and reluctance to spend time with friends or family anymore. 

Receiving a depression diagnosis may be frightening, but the condition can be treated. For both younger and older adults, doctors typically treat depression by recommending a combination of  medication, counseling, and/or therapy. 

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and caring for yourself can be done in many different ways. Exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, sleeping well, avoiding alcohol and drugs, thinking positively, and getting support from others can all improve your happiness.

Sourced By: Healthwise
Reviewed By: Capital Health Plan Physicians Group
Posted: September 29, 2023

Feeling supported and surrounding yourself with positive influences is important for your mental health. Just as you would like to feel supported, offering support to your friends is a meaningful way to show interest and care. If you know someone who is depressed, there are numerous ways to offer comfort and assure them that brighter days are ahead – including encouraging them to start or continue treatment, understanding what depression is, offering help, and reassuring them that treatment will make them feel better.  

Depression is common and can affect anyone, no matter their age or status in life. If you believe you may be depressed, reach out to your doctor; creating a treatment plan can help you overcome depression and rediscover joy. 

2023-09-29 23:30:00