Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Depression?

For a disease that strikes nearly 19 million Americans every year, depression remains remarkably hidden from view. Although its sufferers have included Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jessica Lange, and Mike Wallace, to name a few, people still tend to hide depression from their doctors, from their spouses, even from themselves. As a result, millions never get the treatment they need. Would you know depression if you saw it? Would you know how to get help? Take this short quiz to see how much you know about this often-misunderstood disease.

1. Which of these is a symptom that a person may be suffering from major depression?

a. Suicidal thoughts

b. Insomnia

c. Loss of interest in pleasurable activities

d. A feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness

e. All of the above

2. Depression is rarely a disabling disease. True or false?

True

False

3. When it comes to long-term relief, counseling may be even more effective than antidepressants such as Prozac. True or false?

True

False

4. If depression runs in your family, there's little you can do to prevent it. True or false?

True

False

5. You've felt discontented and listless for a few years, you have trouble sleeping, you aren't getting along well with family and friends, and you feel an absence of joy and vitality in your life. Still, you never miss work and have generally kept your life on track. Finally, you see a doctor. What is the most likely diagnosis?

a. Major depression

b. Dysthymia

c. Anti-social personality disorder

d. None of the above

6. Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is essentially the same as major depression. True or false?

True

False

Your Results

1. Which of these is a symptom that a person may be suffering from major depression?

The correct answer is: e. All of the above

Contrary to common belief, there's no single red flag for depression. While these are all common signs of depression, you can be depressed without having any of these symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, you should suspect depression if a person has five or more of the following symptoms for at least two weeks: frequent feelings of sadness or emptiness; loss of interest in pleasurable activities; unusual eating or sleeping patterns; excessive crying; thoughts of suicide and death; fatigue; difficulty concentrating or remembering; feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness; irritability; and unexplained aches and pains that don't respond to treatment.

2. Depression is rarely a disabling disease. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

Major depression can disrupt your work, leisure activities, sex life, sleep, and appetite. It's hard to live your life when you aren't feeling yourself. Coupled with thoughts of suicide, it can be life-threatening.

3. When it comes to long-term relief, counseling may be even more effective than antidepressants such as Prozac. True or false?

The correct answer is: True

Antidepressant medication is necessary in some cases and has saved countless lives. But studies have also shown that, like Prozac or similar medications, cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy can often ease depression within several weeks. And counseling -- unlike medications alone -- can also give you life-long tools for warding off depression. Studies show that patients who participate in or attend counseling are less likely to suffer a relapse.

4. If depression runs in your family, there's little you can do to prevent it. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

Some people inherit genes that make them especially vulnerable to depression. However, these genes do not mean that you will develop depression, only that you're at higher risk. If you stay active, maintain strong social ties, and develop an optimistic view of the world, you are more likely to live a vital, energetic life -- no matter what your genetic makeup happens to be.

5. You've felt discontented and listless for a few years, you have trouble sleeping, you aren't getting along well with family and friends, and you feel an absence of joy and vitality in your life. Still, you never miss work and have generally kept your life on track. Finally, you see a doctor. What is the most likely diagnosis?

The correct answer is: b. Dysthymia

Dysthymia, or mild depression, literally means "impaired spirit," and has been described as a "low-grade, chronic discontent." This long-lasting form of depression, which often lingers for years, is especially likely to be overlooked. If you don't have signs of major depression but find yourself worried, listless, hopeless, and brooding on the past for two years or more, consider scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional. With help, you're more likely to overcome your mood disorder before it becomes deeply rooted.

6. Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is essentially the same as major depression. True or false?

The correct answer is: False

While related to depression, bipolar disorder is in a class by itself. People with this condition shift between severe depression and mania, the polar opposite of depression (hence the term bipolar.) In the manic phase, people feel like they can do anything -- and they often try. Along with feeling euphoric, supremely confident, and hyper-energetic, people undergoing a severe bout of mania may also do things that are reckless and self-destructive. Fortunately, mood-stabilizing drugs such as lithium and Depakote can bring long-term relief.

References

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, Inc.

Bipolar Disorder. National Institute of Mental Health.

Let's Talk Facts About Depression. American Psychiatric Association.

American Medical Association. Major Depression A Common Disorder.

National Institute of Mental Health. National Institutes of Health. Depression.

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