Do you have depression? Mental health providers use many different tools to try to answer that question.
One of the most common tools they use is the Patient Health Questionnaire, or the PHQ. The PHQ is a self-administered diagnostic tool that medical providers use to diagnose different mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, alcohol use disorder, and eating disorders. Some people describe this assessment as the “depression questions to ask yourself,” or the “PHQ-9” since 9 of the questions address depression specifically.
Although only a licensed professional can accurately diagnose you with depression, you can ask yourself the questions from the PHQ-9 to get a better idea of whether you’re dealing with depression or something else. If you answer “yes” to several of these questions, visit a mental health professional to learn your treatment options for depression.
We’ve described the PHQ-9 questions below. Go through the list and ask yourself these questions. If you answer some of them with “yes,” you may be experiencing depression. If “yes” is your answer to all of these questions, your depression may be severe.
Remember to have compassion for yourself as you answer these questions. It can be difficult to confront the ways depression affects you. Even if you answer all of these questions with “yes”, remember that it’s because of the way depression affects your brain chemistry. None of this is your fault.
Are you feeling down or hopeless?
One of the key indicators of depression is feeling down, bummed, or sad almost all the time. Have you been feeling this way lately? Do you feel hopeless, like nothing will ever get better? Do you find yourself crying more often than usual? Do you feel generally pessimistic about the state of your life?
Keep in mind that everyone feels down sometimes 一 sadness is a normal part of life. But if you’ve felt sad almost all the time for over two weeks, this may be a sign of depression.
Are you losing interest in life, work, or hobbies?
People with depression often experience a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities. Have you become uninterested in the things that you used to feel excited about, including work or hobbies? Do you generally not feel like doing anything, because everything sounds boring or unappealing? Does life bore you, or simply feel “blah”?
Are you having trouble falling asleep or are you sleeping more than you used to?
Problems with sleep often come along with depression. Have you noticed any changes to your sleeping patterns lately? Perhaps you’ve had trouble falling or staying asleep. This may be due to the worries you have.
Or have you noticed that you’re sleeping a lot more than usual or sleeping even when you’ve already gotten a full night’s rest? Would you sleep all day if you didn’t have anywhere you had to be?
Are you fatigued or lacking energy?
It is especially important to note these depression questions to ask yourself because depression can cause you to sleep more, and lack of sleep can cause your depression to worsen.
Partly because of these sleep problems, depression also causes people to be extremely tired or fatigued. Have you noticed that you have had less energy than usual lately? Do you feel exhausted throughout the day, even when you’ve gotten enough sleep? Does this fatigue interrupt your daily life 一 like being less productive at work, for example?
Do you have a poor appetite or the urge to overeat?
On top of changes in your sleep, depression can also affect your eating. Have you noticed any dramatic changes to your appetite lately? Have you lost your appetite or are you eating less than you usually do?
Alternatively, are you eating more than you usually do? Are you overeating or eating even when you’re already full? Has your weight changed or fluctuated because of your changing eating habits?
Do you feel like a failure or in general feel bad about yourself?
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt are common in depression. How is your general self-esteem? How do you feel about yourself and your ability to accomplish things in the world? Do you often feel like a failure, or feel like things are your fault even when they’re not? Do you feel bad about yourself, or find it incredibly difficult to identify your own strengths?
Do you have trouble concentrating when you’re watching television or reading?
It’s hard to concentrate when you have depression. Do you have trouble focusing, even when you’re doing fun or easy activities like watching television? Has your trouble focusing led people around you to tell you that you seem “spaced out” or distracted? Are you having trouble at work or school because of this inability to concentrate?
It is important to address these depression questions to ask yourself because it’s one of the ways depression can impact your work and home life and potentially lead to trouble in these areas. You may want to work with a counselor or psychiatrist to help you find solutions to the barriers depression may create in your work and home life.
Have you slowed down in ways that other people have noticed?
This is a symptom of depression that’s not as well-known as the others. Has anyone commented to you lately that you are moving more slowly than usual? Do you have the sense that you’re moving slowly, perhaps when you’re eating or walking? Have people told you that you seem lethargic?
Do you have thoughts of hurting yourself or that you might be better off dead?
Lastly, check yourself for suicidal thoughts or feelings. Do you often think to yourself that you would be better off dead, or that the world would be better off without you? Have you felt yourself being preoccupied with death lately? Do you sometimes think about hurting yourself (or have you actively self-harmed) because you feel so disappointed or apathetic about life? Have you thought about or made plans to end your own life?
If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 to get connected with someone who can listen and help.
What to Do if You Answered “Yes”
Answering these depression questions to ask yourself can give you a head start on figuring out whether or not you’re depressed. But keep in mind that you should still see a mental health or medical provider for a diagnosis, even if you answered “yes” to all nine of these questions.
Many of these symptoms (especially things like fatigue or loss of appetite) can be caused by other underlying health factors, so it’s important to rule those out and receive the correct diagnosis. At Genesis Behavioral Health, we use a “whole person” approach to help you address your mind, body, and soul during your treatment so that other potential issues are brought to light.
If you do have depression, don’t lose hope. Depression is a highly treatable condition, and receiving a depression diagnosis doesn’t mean that the rest of your life is doomed to misery.
There are many effective treatments available for depression, including psychotherapy, antidepressant medication, and newer and more innovative treatments like TMS therapy. Genesis Behavioral Health is the leading provider of TMS in San Antonio, Texas, and we can also provide cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.
A diagnosis is only the beginning of your journey, not the end. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help.