Today is National Depression Screening Day. If you’re concerned or curious about whether or not depression is a factor in your life, today might be a good day to look into the subject.
In 2016, the US Preventive Services Task Force updated its depression screening guidelines to recommend the screening of depression for everyone 18 years or older, concluding after a systemic review that “with at least moderate certainty…there is a moderate net benefit to screening for depression in adults, including older adults, who receive care in clinical practices that have adequate systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up after screening.”
Note that it recommends screening in contexts where diagnosis, treatment and follow-up can take place, which means that your best option is always to talk to a professional. But if you’re not in the position to do so, Mental Health America offers online screening tools for depression, as well as a number of other common mental health issues, including anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder and several others. In Canada, Calgary Counselling Centre offers depression screening for National Depression Screening Day.
Online screening tools, whether for depression or any other mental health issue, are not diagnostic tools. They can’t tell you with any degree of certainty that you have a particular issue. Instead, what they can tell you is how consistent your self-reported symptoms are with a diagnosis of that issue.
But that lack of concrete answers doesn’t mean you should throw online screening tests in the same pile as ‘Which Movie Dog Are You Most Like‘ (Fang from Harry Potter — thank you Buzzfeed). While depression screening won’t tell you that you have major depressive disorder, it will let you know if you’re showing any major symptoms of depression. If you are, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional as soon as you can, whether that means starting with your family doctor or finding a therapist.
Depression is treatable. Some people respond best to medication, some to therapy, and many to both, but the important thing is finding what works best for you. If you’d like more information about about depression or anti-depressants, make sure to check the articles from our mental health experts.