The Importance of Screening for Depression
by Jake Donofrio
It’s difficult to discern where sadness turns into depression. How can we tell the difference? Thankfully, there are a variety of anonymous, clinically validated mental health screenings available that provide immediate feedback and access to local resources. All you need to do is take a short, online quiz to see if how you’re feeling matches common symptoms of depression. Online mental health screenings are proven to help bridge the gap from disorder to treatment for many who may not otherwise receive help. Depression is treatable and most people find that they can make positive changes in their lives with professional help and the support of family and friends. With National Depression Screening Day arriving on October 7, now is the perfect time to check on your mental health and take a screening.
What is a Depression Screening?
Mental health screenings provide an assessment of the user’s mental health, information on whether the user’s assessment results are consistent with a mental health disorder, an overview of the signs and symptoms of treatable mental health disorders, and access to local, quality treatment options.
- Depression screenings are informative questionnaires, and tend to be anonymous.
- They can typically be completed in under 10 minutes.
- A depression screening isn’t meant to treat or diagnose depression.
Why Take a Depression Screening
The goal of screening is to identify people who may be experiencing depression so they can get the help they need. Someone may benefit from taking a screening if they recently exhibited warning signs of depression such as:
- Feeling down and empty
- Easily frustrated or irritable
- Decreased interest/pleasure in activities
- Eating/sleeping changes
- Isolating self or reducing social contact
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate
Benefits of Depression Screening
There’s no downside to taking a depression screening – they can be completed in minutes and the information can only help. Screening for depression has a variety of benefits including:
- Early identification of behavioral health needs can lead to early diagnosis and treatment, which results in an improved quality of life.
- Learning to identify warning signs of depression through a screening is a skill that benefits friends and family.
- Taking a depression screening helps break the stigma around mental health conditions.
Changing your Mindset
Some people might be wary of a depression screening out of fear that it would not help them. They may believe, “Taking a depression screening has no benefit because it doesn’t matter if I’m technically ‘depressed’, nothing is going to change how I feel.” However, screening for depression is key to discovering if you are experiencing warning signs of depression and increases your chances of taking positive steps to improve your emotional well-being. Progress is possible, every day is another opportunity for self-improvement.
- Depression isn’t permanent. Up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups, or a combination of these treatments.
- Even if you don’t believe you suffer from depression, there’s no harm in taking a screening– nothing is more important than taking care of your mental health. Mental health is linked to physical health and research indicates that people with a mental health condition are more likely to have a preventable physical health condition.
- Many conditions may coexist with depression. Depression may increase the risk for another illness, and dealing with an illness may contribute to depression. If your depression screening indicates that you exhibit warning signs of depression, take a Wide Range Screen as well for a comprehensive look at your behavioral health and recommended next steps to take.
- An independent study done by the University of Connecticut in 2009 (commissioned by Screening for Mental Health, now MindWise Innovations) found that 55% of participants who completed an online depression screening and agreed to participate in a follow-up survey sought depression treatment within 3 months of the screening.
- More people than ever are seeking help for the first time. In 2020, 64% of people who screened at risk for a mental health concern had never received treatment or support before. That’s a seven-point increase from 2019.
Depression is a common condition that takes a toll on everyday life. However, it is treatable through therapy, medication, and a variety of other methods. If you find yourself frequently feeling “down”, losing interest in hobbies, or experiencing sadness at an increased rate, take a free anonymous depression screening today and take the first step toward your recovery. The screening has important resources that can help manage depression; make sure to follow through and schedule an appointment with a mental health professional if necessary. Admitting you need help is a sign of strength, and inspires people around you to make positive changes in their lives as well.