7. The Two-Second Depression Quiz
Depression is bad for your heart, memory, and more.
Television is jammed with commercials for antidepressants. Celebrities from actress Ashley Judd to astronaut Buzz Aldrin have revealed their struggles with gloom. Even so, about 70 percent of America’s 15 million depressed women, men, and children get no help for their condition.
That’s due at least in part to doctors who fumble the ball. When psychiatrist Alex J. Mitchell, MD, of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, analyzed 41 studies involving 50,000 people from around the world (including the United States), he found that doctors missed depression 50 percent of the time. That’s an important oversight, since undiagnosed depression is linked to higher risk for diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions, plus suicide.
It can be tricky to figure out if you’re just a little down or depressed enough to ask for help. But when New Zealand family doctors asked 421 men and women a couple of questions, they spotted 97 percent of those suffering from depression, say researchers from the University of Auckland. The quiz isn’t perfect; like other depression screening tests, it turns up lots of false positives. Consider it a doctor-patient conversation starter:
1. During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
2. During the past month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?You Next Step
“If you answered yes to one or both questions, it’s worth talking with your doctor,” says psychologist Marian R. Stuart, PhD, a professor emeritus at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “The good news is that there’s a lot of help available, including counseling, exercise, gratitude journals, and, if you need them, antidepressants. The first place to go is to your family doctor, who hopefully knows you and the circumstances of your life.”
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