CPR4D’s Unofficial But Really Real Diagnostic Quiz

Taking my depression snapshot

“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” by Greenville Kleisser

If you’ve had depression for any length of time, you are probably familiar with the diagnostic criteria for clinical depression found in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (isn’t that the most charming title? Mental disorders??). You know, your psychiatrist’s bible? For the sake of thoroughness, I’ve included links to a site that lists the criteria for major depressive disorder, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder. Don’t spend too much time here, however, or you might send yourself into a depressive tailspin.

Instead, now that we’ve given a nod to the psych gods, let’s take a look at what depression is really like. If you can check off, oh, say, 12 or more of the criteria below and have experienced them for two months or longer–well, I hate to break it to you, but you probably have some serious depression going on. If you have a hard time reading this, then have a friend, family member, or therapist read it aloud for you. There are 40 items in the quiz. Check off the items to which you can say, “Uh-huh, that’s me!”

( )              Your bed has a permanent groove worn into it because you sleep so much.

( )              You couldn’t fill out a form if your life depended on it—forget the disability forms.

( )              You’ve forgotten how to write a check—never mind balancing your checkbook.

( )              Your mind feels like the congealed oatmeal you cooked three days ago and left in the kitchen sink. (Congratulations! You were able to cook something!)

( )              Piles of dirty clothes have sprouted up around your bedroom floor like some obscure species of mushroom.

( )              You’ve taken to smelling your clothing before putting it on.

( )              You have no peripheral vision.

( )              It’s been at least three days since you’ve had a bath or a shower.

( )              It’s been at least three weeks since your sheets have been changed.

( )              You can’t remember the last time you flossed your teeth… or brushed them.

( )              Your kids have started talking in whispers around you.

( )              A subtle but pervasive smell is drifting from various parts of your house or apartment — most likely the kitchen or bathroom.

( )              A not-so-subtle but pervasive smell is drifting from your body.

( )              You cry at the Hallmark commercials—and at the Sunday night movie of the week, the Monday night sit-coms, Grey’s Anatomy, and the news.

( )              Your mail is taking over your living room/office/kitchen.

( )              You typically pay your bills late, if at all.

( )              Your car registration tags have expired.

( )              You feel like you are moving through quicksand with concrete blocks chained to your ankles.

( )              You’re on medical leave from your job.

( )              You’re still working, but calling in sick regularly. You say your asthma is acting up again or you have a migraine or your back gave out. Anything but the truth.

( )              You ache all over, especially in your neck and lower back.

( )              You find it slightly miraculous that people still say “hi” to you, because you feel so invisible to yourself.

( )              Even though your food intake is about the same or even less than it used to be, you are gaining weight because of the antidepressants you’re taking.

( )              You feel resentful of people who are able to get more than two things done in a day.

( )              You eat out every day or, if you stay home, crackers and cheese has become your favorite meal.

( )              You are at your best (relatively speaking) at midnight.

( )              You’re afraid to go to sleep, because waking up is sheer hell.

( )              You’ve seen every late-night M.A.S.H rerun at least three times.

( )              You wish some kindly soul would stop by with a hot cooked meal and to lend a hand with washing the mountain of dirty dishes.

( )              You confine your grocery shopping to off hours to avoid the crowds.

( )              You have an irresistible urge to nap in the afternoons, even though you just got up a couple of hours ago.

( )              You frequently can’t find the right words for what you want to say.

( )              You can’t remember ever feeling lighthearted.

( )              You feel a deep, abiding sense of shame for existing on the planet.

( )              You are convinced that you will never have anything to look forward to again.

( )              You feel alienated from God, yourself, and other human beings.

( )              While driving, stomping your foot on the accelerator and careening into oncoming traffic seems like a really good idea.

( )              Your kitchen knives are starting to look just a little too good.

( )              You keep wishing there were some passive, easy way to die, such as an accident or a virulent cancer.

( )              You are wondering whom to leave your property and personal effects to.

( )              You wonder if you’ll ever be “real” again.

This quiz is meant to be an authentic look at what it’s like to have major depression. Hopefully, it gave you a rueful laugh and perhaps a sense of relief, knowing that other people experience many of the same symptoms and challenges you do. At the same time, if you’ve checked off a bunch of these items and you’re not currently seeing a mental health professional, it might be time to pick up the phone and make an appointment. If you aren’t sure whom to call, your primary care physician can refer you to a psychiatrist or therapist.

P.S. Please do share this quiz; others might like a wry chuckle! If you share by email, please include the link to this blog. Thanks!

(c) 2010 by Patricia R. Henschen, M.A.

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