Tuesday, February 10, 2015

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Online Screening for Depression

Depressed man
We all experience feelings of sadness at times. When faced with a significant stressor (e.g., ending a relationship, losing a job), such feelings often represent a normal reaction to loss or other stressful circumstances. These reactions tend to be brief and do not detract from one's ability to fulfill one's social, academic, or occupational responsibilities. On the other hand, some people experience a more intense and pervasive sadness, a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, or other symptoms of depression that seem to appear without reason and interfere with their daily life. These individuals may be suffering from depression, a common but serious illness.

Mental Health America offers a free version of the Patient Heath Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a commonly used measure for screening depression, that can be completed on their website. Once the questionnaire has been completed, scores are calculated and information about one's likely level of depression is provided. This can be useful information in informing one's decision to seek professional help and in communicating with one's provider.

Individuals reporting even mild depression on the PHQ-9 often benefit from seeking help. Talking with a counselor in these cases may help to prevent the symptoms from becoming worse and more debilitating over time.

The Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic provides personal counseling for depression and a number of other common emotional problems (e.g., anxiety, stress, grief). We routinely use the PHQ-9 and other brief measures to assess the severity of emotional problems and monitor clients' progress in counseling.

Learn more about depression by reviewing this information from the National Institute of Mental Health.