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  • Depression Test – Quizing the Unquizable?

    Stop!!  Have you ever wondered if there was a depression test you could take online? For what reason? Chances are, if you think that you might be depressed, then you probably are….or you are lost reading through thousands of online pages of “mental disorderpedia” & you are thinking too much of the wrong things.

    There are a number of personality & mood disorder tests online & that doesn’t exclude the so called depression test. Quite honestly, these tests or quizzes bother me quite a bit & I find it difficult to understand the purpose of them. If you really think that you might be depressed, then what does taking an online depression test really give you? Reassurance that you might be depressed?

    The current age of short attention span is drawing people to fast browsing experiences & simple layouts, quizzes & game like user interfaces are gaining popularity to the extent that some reputable health & mental health sites offer them in order to attract visitors. The result of this movement is too many people thinking too much of the wrong things & having more unnecessary stress in their lives by being worried about imaginary illnesses that they don’t have.

    An average person’s life is full of stress & worries of everyday real problems, the burden of which can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, there are no pills or psychologists that can fix the above mentioned problems for these people. This, added with current culture of “more complaining & less taking care of problems” brings many of these people, together with those that are bored & have nothing better to do than find themselves some entertainment online, in the mixture with people who really suffer from this illness.

    The simple fact is this: the people who are depressed are either

    • Not aware of it
    • Aware of it

    Those who are not aware of it aren’t likely to look for a depression test to pass. On contrary, those who are aware of it don’t need a depression test to understand that they are depressed. So, as far as I’m concerned, depression quizzes make no sense whatsoever, regardless of the question whether or not they are legitimate.

    The fact of the matter is that any questionnaires designed to help diagnosing depression need to be taken by a qualified mental health professional. The data collected from these questionnaires is later used, together with the history & current situation of the given person to help the specialist to conclude to initial diagnosis, which are very likely to change as the practitioner gets more familiar with the person & the situation. Chances are you won’t even need to pass any quiz and you’ll be packing your stuff and going back home to your everyday life, before you know it. But that’s for the doc to decide. These questionnaires, generally speaking, are questions phrased around depression symptoms; usually each symptom is being rated for its severity.

    Summing up some of the fundamental flows with self depression tests:

    • Objectivity: you can’t objectively diagnose yourself, neither can the computer, without knowing your situation & personality.
    • Mental health specialist’s experience: experienced clinicians are likely to narrow down to a better (closer) diagnosis, given the right patient’s history & collected data. That said, even then the diagnosis is likely to be modified in the future.
    • Making sure the condition is not due to other physical health condition.
    • Taking the medical history into the account.

    A medical practitioner always conducts a medical examination and a psychical evaluation, coupled with an evaluation of the symptoms experienced by the individual, in order to assess the situation and determine whether the person suffers from a depressive disorder. Beck Depression Inventory or Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression are some of the standard questionnaires used by medical practitioners for depression. A medical examination is conducted by a medical practitioner in order to rule out the possibility of any other medical condition. (MADRS) Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale, Wechsler, Raskin Depression Rating Scales, (QIDS) Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology , (IDS) Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, and other scales can be used by themselves or in conjunction with one another to help the mental health professional better diagnose the patient.

    Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, also known as HAM-D or HRSD, is a standardized questionnaire that medical practitioners use in order to rate the severity of the condition of the patient. It was designed by Max Hamilton in 1960 and was subsequently evaluated and reviewed and updated till 1980. The severity of symptoms such as agitation, mood swings, weight loss, insomnia and anxiety, are rated with the help of this questionnaire. This is one of the most commonly used questionnaires for those expected to have depression. The medical practitioner weights in the answers from the questionnaire after having a detailed discussion/interview with the patient, thus getting to know the symptoms the patient is experiencing. Initially, the scale had only 17 questions but it was later modified to 29 questions. Usually HRSD can also be used in conjunction with other scales for helping diagnose depression, such as Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale, Sung Self Rating Depression scale, Beck’s Depression inventory, Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology, Raskin Depression Rating scale and others.

    The original 17 question PDF: http://dcf.psychiatry.ufl.edu/files/2011/05/HAMILTON-DEPRESSION.pdf

    Beck Depression Inventory, developed by Dr. Aaron T Beck is another tool to test depression type & severity. It contains 21 questions and is designed to be used with individuals of 13 and up. It includes weighting symptoms such as irritability, guilt, feelings of being pushed, hopelessness and other physical symptoms such as weight loss, fatigue and lack of interest in sex. The first version of BDI was developed way back in 1961 and the latest version that is being used by medical professionals was published in 1996.

    Example here: http://thecenterforcreativeevolution.com/wp-content/sitefiles/~public/test-beck%20depression%20inventory.pdf

    Zung’s Self Rating Depression scale was developed by Dr. William W K Zung.  This one also helps assess the level of depression in patients suffering from depressive disorders. This self administered and short survey has twenty questions, each has to be rated on a scale of 1 to 4. There are 10 negatively worded and 10 positively worded questions that individuals will have to answer. Scores on the Zung’s test range from 20-80. People who score over 50 are likely to be depressed, 70 and above are likely to be severely depressed. This questionnaire is available in many languages which include Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, German, Arabic and others.

    Example here: http://healthnet.umassmed.edu/mhealth/ZungSelfRatedDepressionScale.pdf

    Either way, depression test is really a set of symptoms of depression that were transformed into questions. The main reason for specialists to have these questionnaires is to help them determine exactly how serious the situation is & to generally keep track & records. There is no need for an individual to pass any online depression tests, it’s quite simple actually. Do you think you are depressed or not? If you do think you are, then you might want to schedule an appointment with a specialist & get that weight off your shoulders as soon as possible. Don’t let online quizzes put unnecessary thoughts inside your head.