Do you Really Know if You're Depressed?

Depression tool offers doctors way to know if you're still blue

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Depression is so difficult to track, and the daunting task is generally left to primary care doctors. A new tool is available to help both doctors and patients uncover depression risks.

Doctors at the University of Michigan Health System have developed a simple new tool that may help family physicians better evaluate if a person's depression is actually lifting.

"Ask your doctor to use the new depression questionnaire."

“Rather than simply going down a list and checking off a patient’s lack of individual symptoms, we believe there are also positive signs that are important – a patient’s feeling that they are returning to ‘normal,’ their sense of well-being, their satisfaction with life and their ability to cope with life’s ups and downs,” says lead author Donald E. Nease Jr., M.D., who was an associate professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School and member of the U-M Depression Center at the time of the research.

The problem has to do with the fact that official definitions don't match what doctors see in their patients - especially those with mild or moderate symptoms.

To remedy this dilemma, Nease and his colleagues came up with a series of five questions to ask their patients. An example is, “Over the last two weeks, did you feel in control of your emotions?”

Researchers hope this easy-to-use tool will help doctors better understand how a person is really feeling and functioning.

The U-M questionnaire, which is called Remission Evaluation and Mood Inventory Tool, or REMIT, isn't intended to replace, but rather complement current tools and measurements. It's designed to add in the patient’s own view of recovery into the evaluation equation.

Studies involving nearly 1,000 patients showed that adding the REMIT questions to existing measurement tools significantly improved the accuracy of determining a patients true level of depression.

"This can give doctors new insights when making treatment choices, such as changing a patient’s medication or dosage,” Nease says.

Nease adds that REMIT is available to any doctor who wants to use it, unlike other tools requiring a company's permission to use.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 26, 2011
Last Updated:
May 28, 2011