Are you depressed?
May 22, 2002 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Are you depressed? A federal task force recommended that all adults be screened for depression during regular visits with their doctors, noting that many cases are mistreated and as many as half of all cases are missed.
posted by Irontom (10 comments total)
depression isn't so easily screened, for what you have may not be depression at all but a larger and more significant problem. a psychologist or psychiatrist would have trouble making a thorough diagnosis in one visit; that's for sure. the article suggests the use of a questionnaire, which also sounds like a bad idea (questionnaires make it pretty easy to exaggerate answers, no matter how in-depth it gets). i think it's a good idea to try to pay more attention to the mental health of people, but i just don't think the procedures are so similar to your run-of-the-mill doctor's checkups.
posted by moz at 9:16 AM on May 22, 2002

Not so, moz: Brief depression screening tests can be usefully accurate in determining whether a referral is warranted. The idea here isn't that the family doctor is himself an expert, but that he uses easily available tools to do something that won't get done any other way. The very fact htat depression may mask, or be masked by, other physical conditions should make this a key part of the annual check-up.
posted by dhartung at 9:27 AM on May 22, 2002

good point, dan.
posted by moz at 9:28 AM on May 22, 2002

Even if you are diagnosed as depressed, the medical system is so messed up, you may not get the help you need.

I have a very close friend who KNOWS she's depressed. She's on Prozac but it isn't working. She continues to see a psychiatrist who keeps upping the dosage (to 40mg now) and doesn't notice or care that she hasnt' gotten better in 8 months. I am telling her she needs to try some other drug, but it's hard to counter a doctor's advice and win.

She's also seen a therapist but he wasn't helpful. He would listen, not ask probing questions, and say "try to do better" at the end of the sessions. So finally she quit going because she sees it's a waste of time. And since she's depressed, it's nearly impossible for her to motivate herself to find a different doctor!

She's trying to get help but the system is failing her all
over the place. I am trying to help, but it's hard. I am so frustrated by it all. I wish I could help.
posted by aacheson at 9:43 AM on May 22, 2002

I hear ya, aacheson. I'm dealing with that with my girlfriend right now. She went to a therapist when her folks split up and "he didn't help her at all", so now that she's in a full-blown depression she won't go because she's been there, done that, and it didn't help. On top of that, she doesn't have a job to pay for health care, nor does she have skills that would get her a job where health was included, and she doesn't think that going to the free clinic is going to do her any good.

Whenever I tell her she needs help, she rationalizes things and says it'll get better. It isn't, and I'm tired of being an emotional crutch.
posted by starvingartist at 9:48 AM on May 22, 2002

Guys, as someone who was caught in the throes of depression, misdiagnosed and is now on TWO different meds, all i can say is this:

1 - this is not your problem even if the depressive tries to make it yours (and they will);

2 - meds wax and wane. what works now may not next week as your body adapts;

3 - therapy means taking time to find the right therapist and being honest with them and yourself as well as the people in your life;

4 - you have to accept that sometimes people LIKE being depressed. it is easier to be depressed than to figure out what is going on inside your own head.

My best advice to you is to accept that there is nothing you can do. A depressive has to want to get better to get better. A depressive has to acknowledge the hard road ahead and go out there and try, try again.

Before you dismiss me as tripe, let me tell you this... 15 years, 29 therapists, seven meds and an ADD screen means I know of which I speak. At some point you and only you look at your life, say forget this and do something about it... and you accept that it is your problem and you have to find the solution. Anything else is unhealthy codependency and unfair to the people one says they love...

Screens at physicals are a good start. So are referrels but to be honest until someone is ready to speak up to someone and admit feelings of depression and take a hard look within to figure out where such feelings are coming from (or admit they have a chemical imbalance and need treatment), there is nothing you, I or the family doctor can do.
posted by gloege at 9:55 AM on May 22, 2002

Obligatory depression screenings...brilliant. You are depressed if the government says you are depressed. And you WILL take your meds.

There is no Big Brother...there is no Big Brother....
posted by rushmc at 11:43 AM on May 22, 2002

gloege... interesting post. it sounds to me like you've discovered Choice Theory (links: 1 2 3 4), only in a bassackwards way. you, and some of the others who've posted, may want to check it out. I've found it to be very useful in my life.
posted by dobbs at 1:39 PM on May 22, 2002

A couple of years ago, I was seeing my doctor regularly about weight loss stuff, and some other wacky stuff was going on in my life. I wondered if I was formally depressed, and mentioned how I was feeling to my doctor. She asked me a few basic questions and prescribed me some Prozac (10 mg) I stayed on it for two months (probably not long enough, but I couldn't afford it)

I felt like the pills were being thrown at the problem. No questions were asked about therapy or any alternatives or supplementary stuff to meds. Frankly, I probably would have been better off just talking to someone. This is not to say that that is the right option for everyone.

Basic screenings are a great idea, but a full treatment can't come out of my doctor asking me surface questions about how I'm feeling.
posted by melissa at 8:06 PM on May 22, 2002

Yeah, I know many people are depressed, but mandatory screenings and meds is a little too close to Brave New World for me. Spooky.
posted by dejah420 at 10:02 PM on May 22, 2002

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