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Do you ever grapple with feelings of sadness, low energy or a general lack of interest in life? You’re not alone. One in 10 adults in the United States suffers from depression. Finding the right treatment can be challenging, but it’s crucial for restoring your well-being. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) depression quiz can help determine an appropriate course of treatment to help you find relief.

The PHQ-9 is a self-assessment tool designed to evaluate depression. It is based on nine key criteria that are aligned with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). Results can provide mental health providers with insights into the severity of symptoms and can guide treatment decisions.

Understanding the PHQ-9 questions

The nine questions on the PHQ-9 each address a different aspect of a patient’s emotional state and behavior. Quiz takers are asked to consider how often — over the past two weeks — they have experienced certain symptoms. They are asked to rate each from 0 (“not at all”) to 3 (“nearly every day”). These are the nine symptoms:

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things.
  • Feeling down, depressed or hopeless.
  • Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much.
  • Feeling tired or having little energy.
  • Poor appetite or overeating.
  • Feeling bad about yourself — or that you’re a failure or have let yourself or your family down.
  • Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television.
  • Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed. Or, the opposite — being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual.
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way.

Scoring the PHQ-9

Responses are scored based on frequency:

  • Not at all = 0 points
  • Several days = 1 point
  • More than half the days = 2 points
  • Nearly every day = 3 points

Interpreting your score

PHQ-9 scores can help mental health professionals determine the severity of a patient’s depression and plan an appropriate course of action:

  • 0 to 4 indicates minimal depression
  • 5 to 9 suggests mild depression
  • 10 to 14 signifies moderate depression
  • 15 to 19 indicates moderately severe depression
  • 20 to 27 represents severe depression

A PHQ-9 score is a valuable starting point, but the assessment is not meant to substitute for diagnosis by a trained clinician. Many factors go into diagnosing depression. It is also important to remember that if someone’s depression does not meet severe criteria, that does not make their symptoms any less valid.

What’s the next step if you’re diagnosed with depression?

The treatment of depression can take many forms, including (but not limited to) these treatments offered by Active Path Mental Health:

  • Short-term cognitive behavioral therapy — A patient and therapist work together to examine thought and behavior patterns and challenge preconceived beliefs. Therapists emphasize what is going on in a person’s current life, rather than dwelling on the past. While some history may be needed, the focus is on moving forward by developing more effective coping mechanisms. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help patients understand the behavior and motivation of others and equip themselves with problem-solving skills to handle tough situations. Therapists may encourage patients to journal, practice relaxation techniques or even use role-playing to prepare for potentially stressful situations. Not all therapists use the same strategies.
  • Medication management — Active Path Mental Health offers medication management for depression and anxiety. Patients are paired with a psychiatrist or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who works with them to find the right medication, dose and dose schedule. Practitioners monitor the effectiveness of a medication, along with any side effects. They also make sure patients are not mixing psychiatric medications with other medications that could impact effectiveness.
  • SpravatoSpravato is a type of treatment called esketamine that comes in the form of a nasal spray. It is meant to be taken alongside an oral antidepressant. Spravato is for people with treatment-resistant depression — depression that hasn’t improved after trying two or more antidepressants. Spravato works differently than conventional antidepressants, which boost naturally occurring brain chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Boosting these chemicals enhances communication between brain cells, which can positively affect mood. Spravato increases levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Neurotransmitters are the body’s chemical messengers. They send signals between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Boosting glutamate helps the brain communicate more effectively. Poor communication in the brain can lead to symptoms like negative thoughts, mental fog and hopelessness. By improving communication, Spravato can help patients start feeling better after just a few treatments.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)TMS is another therapy for patients who have not found relief with antidepressants. TMS devices send magnetic energy to specific areas of the brain involved with depression. Stimulating these areas can help regulate mood. Active Path Mental Health offers two types of TMS. Repetitive TMS (rTMS) delivers magnetic pulses through a coil positioned above the scalp. These pulses can reach about 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) into the brain. Deep TMS can reach deeper, harder-to-reach regions of the brain. The patient wears a helmet that delivers a continuous electromagnetic field (no pulsing) that can reach about 1.6 inches (4 cm) into the brain.

Find help with your depression with Active Path Mental Health

When it comes to depression, the PHQ-9 is an important first step on the journey to recovery. You can take the PHQ-9 depression assessment on the Active Path Mental Health website.

Whatever the result, remember that you do not have to navigate depression alone. Active Path Mental Health can help you or a loved one find a path to brighter days. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.
Source: https://med.stanford.edu/fastlab/research/imapp/msrs/_jcr_content/main/accordion/accordion_content3/download_256324296/file.res/PHQ9%20id%20date%2008.03.pdf

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