Understanding the difference between being a bit down or actually being depressed can be difficult. After all, everyone gets down from time to time. Work isn’t going well, you’re fighting with your partner or you just feel lousy for no particular reason.

For most people, this is temporary and before you know it you’ve bounced back. But when you’re depressed, no matter how hard you might try, you can’t snap out of it. (Feel free to slap anyone who insists you can).

So if you’re currently not feeling great, check yourself against these symptoms:

  1. Your concentration and memory are poor. Thinking clearly is incredibly hard and getting through your work is a nightmare.
  1. You have less energy than a two-toed sloth. Getting out of bed and to work is the physical equivalent of scaling Everest.
  1. Nothing, including sex, gives you pleasure.
  1. Controlling your emotions is difficult. You may be irritable, angry or cry for no reason and possibly all at once.
  1. You obsess about things with the same thoughts going round and round. I can’t believe he said that! I can’t believe he said that! I can’t believe he said that! Doctors call this ‘ruminating’.
  1. Your sense of humour has taken a vacation and it looks like it’s an extended one.
  1. Sleeping is hell. You’re awake when you should be asleep and asleep when you should be awake. Worse, your work keyboard is starting to resemble a soft, plump pillow.
  1. You judge yourself very harshly and unfairly. For example, “I always disappoint my boss” or “I’ll never be happy”.
  1. You see your illness as punishment for something in your past. For example, “After what I did to Sarah, I deserve to feel like this.”
  1. You feel hopeless. It seems nothing you do will ever help.
  1. You eat like a pig.
  1. You eat like a sparrow.
  1. You may feel suicidal. If you do, PLEASE SPEAK UP. Even the bleakest of times pass and things really do get better but you have to talk to someone. Call a friend, call your family or call Lifeline: 13 11 14.

While assessments differ between experts, the Black Dog Institute recommends that if you’ve been suffering from five or more of these symptoms for two or more weeks you should seek professional help. That’s not to say you’re necessarily depressed but you certainly need to talk to an expert.

Actually, even if you don’t have five of these criteria but you’re not feeling great why risk it? Go and see a doctor and work out what’s wrong. After all, why suffer needlessly?

For a similar self-assessment test as the one above or for a wonderful array of information on everything from anxiety and depression to getting help and getting involved you can’t go past

See you in a fortnight.

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