Telling Thoughts

Your spouse may suspect. Your coworkers may wonder: Are you depressed? Surprisingly, even if your doctor thinks as much, she may not ask you the kinds of questions needed to make a diagnosis of this common health problem.

When researchers at Rhode Hospital at  Medical School asked 30 family physicians whether a mental-health screening would embarrass patients, the doctors said yes in 65% of the cases. Yet when patients were asked how they felt about such questioning, only 9% said they’d be uncomfortable.

Depression often goes undiagnosed, and lack of screening could be part of the problem, says study co-author James Fabrik, MD, director of outpatient psychiatry at Rhode Hospital. “This underscores the importance of speaking up if anything’s bothering you, because often the doctor won’t ask,” says Dr. Fabrik.

How are you supposed to know if you might be depressed? Check these symptoms. If you experience several of the following for more than two weeks, tell your physician: persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings; loss of interest in activities; feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, guilt or worthlessness; insomnia or oversleeping; appetite loss or overeating; fatigue; restlessness; irritability; difficulty concentrating or remembering; persistent headaches; or feelings that your life is not worth living.