Canada’s Most Unwanted (Part 2 of 2)
Is a two-headed mental health monster wreaking havoc in your life? In these pandemic days, it can be hard to tell. Learn how you may be under attack—and not even know it—and what you can do
By Quentin Steen, Representative
In last week’s Monday Mental Health Moment, we looked at the first of Canada’s most unwanted mental health problems: anxiety. This week, we will begin to unpack anxiety’s kissing cousin: depression.
It’s a known fact that high levels of anxiety over a long period of time will often lead to depression. Many people, like myself, have a mixture of anxiety and depression symptoms as a result. But there is help!
The word depression is used in many different ways. Everyone can feel sad or blue when bad things happen (e.g., a messy divorce, loss of a job) or even for no apparent reason, but that is not depression. People who have the blues may have a significant short term depressed mood, but they can manage to cope and soon recover without treatment.
But this is not my story. I have what is known as a major depression or clinical depression. Major depression is the most common of all mood-related disorders. It affects about 13 percent of the Canadian adult population at some point in their lives, and this number only captures those who receive professional help. Many more people don’t realize they need help or chose not to get help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability and the leading contributor to the global burden of disease for a person aged 15-44. Even more revealing is that the WHO anticipates that depression will be the leading cause of disability for all ages and sexes in developed countries.
People with mood-related disorders may experience distress and feel their mood and emotions are not under their control. This can be a terrifying and debilitating feeling if left without the support of others and helpful treatments (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, medications, sleep, exercise, avoiding depressant substances).
So where do you land along the depression continuum? A good place to start is with the Goldberg Depression Scale, an internationally recognized screening tool for depression developed by Sir David Goldberg. This brief online quiz can help you determine if you may need to see a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment of depression, or for tracking your depression and mood on a regular basis.
The quiz is just a screening tool and is not intended to diagnose major depression. But if you rate high for depression on the scale, seek professional assessment. People with depression scores of two or higher have a 50 percent chance of having a mental health problem. The higher the score, the higher the probability.
The good news is that help is available to treat your depression. But to get help, you need to know whether your depression is normal or a condition that needs treatment. During these abnormal times, that may be hard to figure out.
So if you feel that depression is getting the better of you, take the quiz, and see whether it might be a good idea for you to talk to a professional.
Quentin Steen is a certified mental health first aid instructor for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Get your BRAIN right and your MIND will follow!
4 Mental Health Resources to Help You During the Pandemic
- Stronger Minds features videos and quick reads from mental health experts, activities to help you gain resilience, and ask-an-expert videos in response to questions.
- WellCan offers free well-being resources to help Canadians develop coping strategies and build resilience to help deal with uncertainty, mental health, and substance abuse concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support provides free online resources, tools, apps, and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals.
- CLAC is also continuing to make available to all members and their families our employment and family assistance program. If you or your loved ones are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out for free, confidential help today.