Despite the increased focus on mental health over the pandemic, it’s not always easy to diagnose or recognize depression. When it’s something you are experiencing, it can be even tougher to see the bigger picture.

October 6 is National Depression Screening Day and offers an excellent opportunity to assess your own mental health by taking an online depression screening and learning more about depression. Depression can happen at any time and to any person regardless of their race, ethnicity, social status, income, lifestyle, location, family history, or previous mental health status. Sometimes depression is triggered by an event–a death, a divorce, a diagnosis, a job loss, a trauma. Sometimes depressive symptoms coincide with the changing seasons. Depression can also be brought on by genetics or by hormonal changes in pregnancy, menopause, or puberty. It can be fleeting, lasting less than a year, or it can be something a person manages throughout their lifespan.

Why do people need a depression screening? Because depression can look like a lot of other things. This condition can appear as individual bothersome symptoms that are easy to overlook or brush off. When seen collectively, it becomes more obvious that there’s something more serious going on. A depression screening gives that broader scope and opens the path for treatment options.

Many people recognize some of the more obvious symptoms of depression including feeling sad, having crying spells, or a lack of interest in many things they once loved. But other symptoms of depression are more difficult for people to recognize.

Less obvious symptoms of depression include

  • irritability and anger
  • generalized, persistent feelings of fatigue or being tired that are unrelated to amount of sleep
  • lack of focus
  • feelings of being unwell like stomach pains, muscle aches, headaches
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • changes in eating–eating too much or not enough
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What do these look like in real life? It can be as simple as noticing you are raising your voice at your kids or your partner. You might find yourself getting unusually frustrated at work when a colleague is late or a patient is challenging. It could be that the daily walks that used to give you energy and a sense of calm, have dropped off your activity list because you just can’t get motivated. Or you seem to have a pounding headache by the time your day ends–on most days. Taken individually, these might not seem to be anything but an unusual blip in life. But when any of these happen repeatedly or happen collectively, it’s a signal that something else is going on.

A depression screening is an excellent tool for nurses to apply to themselves or to patients or loved ones. Nurses can look more into depression assessments to see what kind of assessment is used in particular circumstances in the industry too. But simple depression screenings can help you recognize when you might need help to manage your symptoms.

Depression treatment can include talk therapy and medications for milder cases and more intensive treatments for moderate to severe depression. If you notice that you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or that someone you  love or someone you care for is, seeking additional help should be the next step.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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