Monday, January 10, 2011

The Depresion Scale

When people ask me how I feel and earnestly want an answer I often struggle to define in concrete terms exactly how good (or bad) I feel at that moment or in general. I think it would be useful to use a quantifiable measure of mood. A sequenced scale of 1-10 would seem most appropriate for this use. A 10 would mean that you feel no signs of depression as in you are completely content. Note that this does not mean you are perfectly happy, but merely not feeling bad in any measurable way. Perhaps we could use 11-20 for a happiness scale, but I fear that would exclude those who are feeling both happiness and depression simultaneously through different aspects of their life (ie: they were dumped but just got a pay raise). In any case let’s focus on the 1-10 depression scale. A 1 would mean that that person has reached their own personal lowest emotional state before losing sanity or experiencing an emotional breakdown. By its nature this value would be relative and often unknown as the person may not have experienced their true maximum depression threshold. I would define my own 1 as the point to which I become overwhelmingly suicidal. I would not only think about suicide but plan the ways I could do it and be convinced to go through with those plans if not act on them.
When I defined this scale to my friend she inquired where I’d rate myself at that moment. I told her I was a 5. This shocked her: “that bad huh?” I tried to explain that for those of us who suffer from some form of lifelong depression a 5 wasn’t that bad. For most of us I would assume that this would be the norm in fact. Someone who is functionally handling their depression (depression can never be “cured”) knows ways to manage being at that level on a consistent basis and may not show any outward signs of depression whatsoever. This is why is a bad idea to assume that you know whether a person is depressed (no matter how close you are to that person). I would submit that if a person is only a 5 or lower once in a great while (even if they hit a 7 or 8 once a week) that would be a person I would define as normal or not depressed. I really can’t say how many people would fit into this category but I would be greatly surprised if this number was over 50% of the population. Doesn’t depression become the norm then. I would say it does not simply because the evidence shows that in other periods and cultures the depressive state expressed in nowhere close to the majority. In this country (as well as some others like Japan) individuals put such high pressure on themselves and others to achieve that it causes many if not must of use to suffer mental disorders. Expecting ourselves to do more than what is logically possible is a recipe for insanity. Our senses conflict with what our brain is telling us and the conflict causes cognitive damage.

I’d like you all as my readers to think about how you would rate yourself on my depression scale both how you feel about life in general and how you are feeling on this particular day/moment. Ask yourself if you feel that you are alone in this feeling and ask yourself if there is anything you can reasonably do to make yourself feel better (if you need to). If you don’t see yourself as depressed ask yourself: how many people do I think are depressed in my environment and how should I interact with them?

1 comment:

  1. I've always felt that depression is like an AIDS of the mental state. Everything that your mind does to feel better is negated by illness and takes motivation away to do anything, whether or not it helps. What I learned is that for the longest time I had an axiom of my perceptions were as close as truth as I could get, when in fact they were the biggest source of the engine that perpetuated the cycles of depression.