Of course, you know if you’re physically hurt, such as if you have a headache or you fracture a toe. But sometimes it’s less easy to tell whether you may be having behavioral health issues such as depression.
At this point in time, the best tool we have to diagnose depression comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly known as DSM-V, now in its fifth edition. The diagnostic criteria in the DSM-V is based on research by psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.
Symptoms of Clinical Depression
The DSM-V indicates a diagnosis of depression if five or more of these symptoms have been present over a consecutive two-week period and represent a change from previous functioning; at least one of the symptoms is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or a decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much nearly every day
- Noticeably physically agitated or slowed down, as observed by others nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to concentrate or make decisions nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
These symptoms can cause significant distress or impairment in social relationships, problems at work, and other functional areas of life
It should also be noted that symptoms of clinical depression are not due to the direct physiological effects of substance abuse, medications, or another medical condition (i.e., hypothyroidism).
If you have been experiencing these symptoms and think you may be depressed, don’t hesitate to seek help from a behavioral healthcare provider who can get you the help you need, whether it includes medication and/or therapy.
Behavioral activation therapy is one method used to treat depression. This involves encouraging the patient to participate in activities that can improve mood, such as exercise, socializing, learning new skills, and working on relationships.
You can try behavioral activation therapy at home! Here’s how.
3 Steps of Behavior Activation Therapy
- Make a list of three or four activities you enjoy, like reading a book, taking a walk, or trying a new recipe.
- Also list three or four responsibilities you have every day, like getting your kids off to school, eating breakfast each morning, or cleaning your room.
- Try doing at least one thing from your list each day, and use a journal or scale of 1 to 10 to record how you feel before and after.
Do you feel a sense of accomplishment after cleaning your room? Do you feel more or less depressed after exercise?
At Balanced Living Psychiatry, Dr. Michelle Zipperman is expert at diagnosing and treating depression using integrative psychiatry practices, including behavioral activation therapy. To learn more, contact our Seattle, Washington office today for an appointment.