What is depression?
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder, is a common mental health disorder that can negatively affect how you feel, act, or think. It typically involves a low mood and loss of pleasure or interest in activities you once found enjoyable. Depression is different from regular mood changes and periods of sadness and tends to affect all aspects of a person’s life, including their work life, social life, and home life.
If you experience depression, know that you’re not alone. Around one in six people will experience depression at some time in their life, and around one in fifteen adults are affected by depression each year. Anyone can experience depression, although there are some risk factors that can make it more likely to occur.
Fortunately, depression is one of the most treatable mental health conditions. If you think you have depression, the self-assessment tool on this page can help us better understand your symptoms so we can find the support you need.
Signs and symptoms of depression
Depressive episodes can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the number of symptoms and how badly they impact a person’s life. Symptoms of major depression can include:
- Feeling sad or depressed
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Changes in usual appetite (i.e. poor appetite or increased appetite)
- Trouble falling asleep, light sleep, or excess sleeping
- Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
- Trouble concentrating
- Navigating the day with extreme personal effort
- Lack of energy
- Slight weight gain or slight weight loss
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulty making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Lethargy or fatigue
Some medical conditions, such as thyroid issues, can mimic signs and symptoms of depression. Speaking to a healthcare professional can help you rule out other causes for why you may be feeling the way you do.
How do you diagnose depression?
The general criteria for a depression diagnosis is experiencing five or more depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least two weeks. One of the experienced symptoms must be a low mood or loss of interest in activities.
While this depression test is useful for better understanding your symptoms, it’s best to talk to a mental health professional if you think you have depression. Depression diagnosed by a mental health worker is often found by asking:
- When your symptoms began
- How long your symptoms last
- How often you experience your symptoms
- Whether or not your symptoms prevent you from doing your usual activities.
Sometimes, a blood test may be taken to rule out other medical causes (i.e. thyroid problems).
Risk factors for depression
Depression doesn’t usually arise from a single event, however there are some risk factors which can make a person more likely to experience depression. We look at some of these below.
Personal factors that can contribute to depression include:
- Family history: People who have a parent or close relative with depression are more likely to experience it themselves.
- Personality: In some cases, people with certain personality traits can be more at risk of experiencing depression. This includes perfectionists, people who worry a lot, those with low self-esteem, and people who are highly critical of themselves.
- Medical conditions: Some health conditions can cause depression. In other cases, a person may experience depression as a result of a medical condition that is causing them significant worry or stress.
- Drug & alcohol use: Excessive substance use can lead to depression. At the same time, people with depression can often resort to drug and alcohol use to mask their feelings.
Sometimes, depression is triggered by stressful life events. This might include going through separation or divorce, losing your job, experiencing a traumatic event, the death of a loved one, or being in an abusive relationship.
It’s important to note that while these factors can increase the risk of developing depression, they do not guarantee that someone will experience depression. Depression is multifaceted, and its development is often the result of a combination of factors.
Treatments for depression
Although your depression may feel unsurmountable at times, know that it is treatable. In fact, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), between 80-90% of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment and almost all experience relief from symptoms.
We want to offer you hope as you navigate your journey. It’s important to remember that each path toward healing is unique, just like depression itself. Treatments for depression can encompass a variety of approaches, tailored to your individual needs. Whether it’s through antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, there are options available to support you on your journey towards wellbeing.
- Antidepressant medications: These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), like venlafaxine. Speaking to a mental health professional can help you find the right medication for your symptoms.
- Esketamine (SPRAVATO®): This is a new nasal spray medication that can be helpful for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) as well as providing relief during the time it takes for antidepressants to take effect.
- Psychotherapy: Also known as ‘talk therapy’, psychotherapy can help people learn new ways to think, cope, or relate to others. This might include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, or behavioral activation.
- TMS therapy: If you’ve tried depression treatments without success or faced negative side effects, TMS therapy could offer hope. Specifically designed for those with treatment-resistant depression, TMS therapy has shown the potential to alleviate symptoms within a few weeks.
How to use the depression self-assessment test
This depression test includes 12 questions that explore if you experience common depression symptoms and how often. Your responses can indicate to us whether or not you have depression. When using this depression self-assessment test, try to answer honestly and truthfully to achieve the most accurate result.
Please review the disclaimer at the top of the assessment. These questions are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. Once acknowledged, provide your contact information for follow-up from our clinical team, who can offer support and guidance.
If you find that your responses suggest depression or if you have any concerns about your mental health, we encourage you to initiate a conversation with your healthcare provider.
Untreated depression can manifest in various ways and addressing it early can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life.
Seeking professional help
Know that we are committed to assisting you further and providing the support you need. After submitting your self-assessment, one of our team members will be in touch with you to provide further guidance on how we can support you on your journey toward improved mental health.
If you’re ready to get help now, click here to schedule an appointment with one of our mental health providers.
You can also choose to contact us with any questions regarding our treatments or services.
If you’re in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek immediate help by calling 9-8-8 or texting “START” to 741741. For life-threatening emergencies, dial 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room.