July is #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth in South Africa and in Episode 2 of our talk show, we shine the spotlight on just one condition: depression. Living in a pandemic has taken its toll on our mental fortitude, our resilience and general mood. In fact, research is starting to highlight just how much of an impact living through unprecedented times – like we have with Covid-19, has had on our mental health.
“COVID-19 can result in psychological issues due to both pandemic stress and the physical effects of the disease,” says Brittany LeMonda, PhD, a senior neuropsychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
New studies suggest a correlation between a COVID-19 positive diagnosis and a significant risk for developing a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression post recovery. Don’t despair, help is at hand, and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, SADAG has a dedicated trove of resources as well as a hotline to assist anyone struggling with mild to chronic depression. Please consult these extensive resources here: https://www.sadag.org/
HOW DO I KNOW I’M DEPRESSED?
While there may be no laboratory tests able to diagnose depression it doesn’t mean diagnostic tools and test cannot be used to treat the condition. A physician may order specific blood work to check for markers and contributing conditions that influence mood. Looking at thyroid function, gut health, stress levels and even the possibility of infection can cause symptoms similar to that of depression and can exacerbate existing mood disorders.
If contributing factors can be ruled out and the problem still exists, psychological evaluation may become necessary.
WHEN IS IT MORE THAN JUST SADNESS?
A diagnosis of depression is only conclusive when the individual assessed has, or is currently displaying, at least five of the following symptoms for a minimum period of 14 days:
- Chronic sadness or low, depressive mood
- Chronic stress that leads to anxiety, irritability and low mood
- Increasing loss of interest and enjoyment in most or all activities that used to cause pleasure
- Chronic fatigue, lethargy and listlessness
- Thoughts and feelings of low self-esteem, self-worth, guilt and shame
- Trouble focussing, concentrating or chronic brain fog
- Suicidal thoughts, thoughts of death or self-harm
- Irritability with oneself and others, agitation and impatience
If you feel that you may be struggling with prolonged bouts of depression, there are a number of tests available online. As Psychotherapist, Louis Niehaus mentions in the episode: if your mood is starting to affect your ability to function in life: don’t wait, seek help. Complete one of these tests, like our Depression vs Sadness Quiz below, and share the results with a mental health expert.
Watch the episode here.
If you’d like to know more about depression, read our article Depression 101
Online tests in no way serve to diagnose a mental health condition. Please chat to a mental health practitioner if you are concerned about the state of your mental health or the results of your tests.