C'mon, doesn't everybody do it?
March 13, 2006 4:23 AM   Subscribe

How often do you contemplate suicide? What's your score on the Beck Depression Inventory?

I contemplate suicide on a fairly regular basis, my score on the Beck Depression Inventory is about a 36, some days it is hard to get out of bed, blah blah blah. Supposedly this means I am severely depressed. However, it's hard for me to believe what I feel is all that different from what everybody else in the world deals with.

So is it? MeFites, what do you feel in your day-to-day life? Do you see the "classic signs of depression"? What's your Depression Inventory score, if you don't mind me asking? And are you diagnosed with depression or do you consider yourself depressed? Are my results really that abnormal?

It's hard for me to justify talking to a therapist or doctor about this if it's something everyone has to deal with. I don't want to go through the trouble and the medications if it's something that simply requires a bit more willpower.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (78 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I scored 28 and I have a history of depression. If your feelings of depression have ever lasted for a period greater than two weeks you should definitely look into talking to a therapist. There are alternatives to pharmacotherapy including cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal therapy. Again, explore these options with a professional, preferably one who isn't biased towards heavily medicating you.

Interestingly, minimization of one's symptoms is itself usually an early symptom of major depressive disorder. The fact is these feelings are not normal. Yes, everyone feels sad from time to time but chronic depression with thoughts of suicide should be taken very seriously and proper treatments should be explored.

Good luck
posted by saraswati at 4:56 AM on March 13, 2006

I don't know how legitimate that test is, but I'd say my score on it right now is a 4, and that's only because of an unusual couple of weeks for me. Normally it'd be lower--somewhere between zero and two.

If you are contemplating suicide on a fairly regular basis, you are depressed.
posted by Prospero at 4:57 AM on March 13, 2006

I went through the questions and scored in the "Moderate to severe depression" range. However, I don't think there's a whole lot of value in determining whether this is "normal" in comparison to other people or not. That is, ignoring signs of severe depressions because other people have it too, or because there are people worse off than you, or anything in terms of people who are not you, is not a good thing because depression is not a good thing. If you would like to feel better, and you have the means (i.e., the money or health insurance) to get some help (and help doesn't necessarily involve medication) with it, there's no reason to tough it out alone.

So yeah, gazillions of people suffer from depression at various levels, and deal with it in different ways, but those people aren't you, so try to stop thinking of your issues in terms of those people. You don't need to justify a desire to get help for yourself so you can feel better.
posted by Gator at 4:57 AM on March 13, 2006

BDI score of 2. So much for my goth cred :)

FWIW, one of those points was a 1 on the suicidal thoughts question.

Just for interest's sake, I went back and answered all the questions as I would have done (if I could have been bothered) in the middle of a particularly black two weeks I experienced last year, and I got 35 (still scoring 1 on the suicidal thoughts question, interestingly enough).

It seems to me that if a high-30s score seems normal to you, you're spending a lot of time feeling way worse than you need to, and would be more than justified in seeking professional help.

I also think that willpower is of limited use in climbing out of that kind of hole; willpower is all about making yourself DO things, not making yourself FEEL things.

Also, if you're attempting to feel better by sheer force of will and you have a black day, you're likely to end up perceiving that as a failure in itself and whipping on yourself even more, which would be kind of counterproductive.

I've seen meds work wonders for people close to me; I've seen exercise work well too. Kicking caffeine and nicotine habits is a good idea too.

Best of luck!
posted by flabdablet at 5:10 AM on March 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

28 here.

I'm having a bit of a crap time at the moment though - hate my job (which is isolating and dull), hate where I am living (renting a room off people who do not like me and who do not want to share their space, and paying extortionate rent), 200 miles from my partner and spending great swathes of my spare time on the train. I fully expect to be much lower in a few months, once I've moved out, and probably quit the job, and hopefully moved back to my own house. I'd estimate my "background" score to be around 10.

I'd add to the chorus saying that feeling as bad as you obviously do is not normal and shouldn't be "put up with" - you can and ought to feel better than this, and there's nothing wrong with asking for help.
posted by handee at 5:28 AM on March 13, 2006

I went through the whole depression thing a couple of years ago, and I remember thinking exactly the same stuff that you're saying here. I thought seriously about killing myself pretty much every day. At the time it seemed like a perfectly logical response to whatever situation set it off, whether that was some small specific setback or a general feeling of pointlessness.

Today, it's completely different. Of course, I still get down from time to time, and I still agonise about what I'm doing with my life and what's the point of it all. But that never, ever leads me to think about suicide. And I don't mean that I think about it and then decide to silence the thought; these days, the idea doesn't even enter my head in the first place.

When I look back at how I used to think and behave, it just seems downright bizarre that I would think about killing myself at every opportunity, even though I can remember how, at the time, it felt like a completely normal way of thinking. It's a weird thing to reconcile, and the only way I can do it is to realise that my brain just works differently now.

That's kind of how I managed myself out of depression in the first place. I stopped thinking about those thoughts as a normal thing that I needed to develop the willpower to control or silence. Instead, I looked at them as just a weird byproduct of my broken brain, and decided to focus on fixing that problem. The moment I did that, things started getting better.

(For what it's worth, I just had a look at that test and scored 4.)
posted by chrismear at 5:30 AM on March 13, 2006

I scored like a 14 and that's while dealing with major health shit that will never get better, so if you're scoring a 36 you should seriously consider getting professional help.
posted by Justinian at 5:34 AM on March 13, 2006

I scored an 8 and I was trying to score high, just to see if I could 'encourage' a worse score but the test still says 8 is 'normal' - I'm probably more of a 3 or a 4 at the most though. I've never been diagnosed with depression. I don't contemplate suicide. I occasionally think about the abstract notion of suicide and what it would mean to my family and friends - or, if a family member of friend committed suicide, how that would affect me - but that's about all I really ever think about on the subject - and that's pretty rare.
posted by soplerfo at 5:45 AM on March 13, 2006

I scored one level higher than what I actually felt on every question, and still I only scored 28. If you're scoring a 36, you should consider speaking to a doctor.
posted by Jairus at 5:55 AM on March 13, 2006

Diagnosed and began treatment about 10 years ago, and I scored a 5. I understand why a 36 could feel like no big deal -- it's your everyday life, and your various coping mechanisms are in place. Therefore, it feels normal. Depression skews perception a lot (if not all) of the time.

If you get help, eventually you'll be amazed that this level of depression was ever acceptable to you.
posted by gnomeloaf at 5:56 AM on March 13, 2006

36 for me but I never contemplate suicide. I can't remember ever feeling differently, and my score would probably have been the same if I had taken then test when I was 7 (now 27). I naturally assumed that "everyone else" would have a score similar to mine, but my partner scored 2 and he said it was a stretch. For what it's worth, most people who know me would be surprised to know that I'm always depressed.
posted by defreckled at 6:02 AM on March 13, 2006

I scored a 5, and I'm dealing with a reasonably serious illness, so I do think your score is high. There have been times, though, when my score would have been off the charts. I think almost everyone scores extremely high at some point in his/her life, but we don't score high all the time. A very high score is a good indicator that things are not going well in your life. Changes of some sort need to be made.

As with Chrismear, I not only don't think of suicide, the fact that I once did seems surreal. There has been a fundamental chance in my internal structure. I remember feeling that way, but I don't remember why.

Why do you think of suicide? Sometimes life really sucks, and it's hard to see a way out of it. Sometimes life really isn't that bad, but the inner workings of your head are. Life sucking can change fairly quickly, and you have some control over that. The inner workings of your head, not so easy to deal with by yourself.
posted by clarkstonian at 6:04 AM on March 13, 2006

How often do you contemplate suicide?


What's your score on the Beck Depression Inventory?


I thought back to the worst two days of my life, and for those, I scored 17.

It's not that I feel happy all the time, but apparently there are whole categories of negative emotions that I've never even contemplated having.
posted by martinrebas at 6:08 AM on March 13, 2006

39 here, but I tend to agree with saraswati - feeling hopelessness about treating your depression or blaming yourself for not having enough willpower is in itself a symptom of the depression you suffer from. If you have the means (money, health insurance, whatever) get treatment, both psychological and pharmacological.
posted by xyzzy at 6:16 AM on March 13, 2006

Depression is very treatable. It's absolutely worth getting some attention for it.

I used to feel like you do, for a period of almost a year in fact, but was able to get past it through counseling and exercise and some basic self-help. Meds could have been used but ended up not being necessary in my case. Now it seems utterly bizarre to think that there was a time I didn't want to get out of bed. I'm eager to live. Feeling 'stuck' and hopeless and negative about the future are symptoms of depression, as noted above, and treatment may make a big difference for you. You don't need to feel this way, and you posted here, showing that you do have the wherewithal not to stay in this place. With even just a spark of desire to stop feeling bad, you can make tremendous progress.
posted by Miko at 6:22 AM on March 13, 2006

uh... I scored 42.
posted by quibx at 6:35 AM on March 13, 2006

Anonymous, I have suffered from major depression for 30 years. Only recently (through meds, life changes, and exercise, and who knows what other coincidences) have I encountered that mysterious "glad to be alive" feeling.

Allow me to point out that your feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts may simply be familiar and therefore (paradoxically) comforting. Just because it's what you're used to doesn't mean it's the only way to live. Also, I'd venture to say it doesn't matter what other people feel or think. That's why I didn't offer up my Beck score for comparison.

My advice is to consider therapy--either talk therapy or meds. Trust me, it's more fun to have fun. When depression lifts, or is lifted, you don't necessarily turn into a happy idiot, if you're worried about that. I'm still as cynical and cantankerous as I was, it's just that these feelings don't dictate my life like they did before.
posted by scratch at 6:40 AM on March 13, 2006

26. Sounds about right.
posted by emelenjr at 6:46 AM on March 13, 2006

I once had an acquaintance not believe me when I said that I never thought about suicide. I've often wondered since then if that was because he perceived me as being a more "down" person than I really was, or if he was at least a little suicidal but assumed everyone else felt that way, too. The latter possibility have always made me wonder if suicidal people usually just assumed that deep down, everyone else felt suicidal, too.

I have never once thought about killing myself. I can't speak for anyone else.

"It's hard for me to justify talking to a therapist or doctor about this if it's something everyone has to deal with."

Why? I don't think the number of other people who feel similar to you should stop you from seeking help. No, you're not abnormal. But that doesn't mean you cannot or shouldn't work toward feeling better. You can and you should. Even people who score pretty damn low on that test will probably have a good many moments in their lives when they would really benefit from professional help. And many people you probably wouldn't expect probably do see some kind of therapist. The only justification you need is that you feel depressed, you want to feel better, you're willing to do the work and to accept help.
posted by lampoil at 6:47 AM on March 13, 2006

I am going through a lay-off and only scored a 6. And thinking back to a time when I was in couseling for depression (after three deaths of people close to me), I still only scored about a 15.

I've never actually considered suicide at any point in my life.

It doesn't matter what "other people have to deal with". If you are experience that much angst about yout life, you should talk to a professional.
posted by kimdog at 6:47 AM on March 13, 2006

(just adding another data point)

I'm about an 8 on the inventory thing and I've never contemplated suicide.
posted by falconred at 6:50 AM on March 13, 2006

33 here, and while I've got plenty holding me back I've been thinking about suicide far more than than I should be lately. Started up with a counselor on Friday, going back again today, and hopefully things will be heading up. I know I used to be a lot happier than this. I too feel like it's a failure of willpower, but I'm making myself realize that a lot of nasty shit has been happening to get me here. The fact that all that nasty shit is because of ANOTHER failure of willpower might make it tough, but time will tell.
posted by luftmensch at 6:51 AM on March 13, 2006

35, but no suicide.

I've thought about really changing the things I don't like but I don't think quitting my job would make it any better.
posted by Napierzaza at 7:02 AM on March 13, 2006

scored a 38.
posted by puke & cry at 7:16 AM on March 13, 2006

Currently, I get a 2.

Like martin, I reflected back to my most depressed state and got a 22.

36 sounds pretty bad.
posted by justkevin at 7:28 AM on March 13, 2006

I erred on the side of the more negative choices and scored an 8.

I have a history of depression—though I've got it under control now for the first time in years—including suicidal impulses that, like others have said, seem utterly foreign to me now.

At my very worst, I'd have scored a 44, but that led to me being institutionalized briefly. A 36, to me, would definitely indicate the need to see a professional.

Data points aside, I hope you beat this thing, Anon.
posted by S.C. at 7:33 AM on March 13, 2006

I took it from the perspective of how I felt in 2003, which was a very bad year -- death in the family and divorce and also getting dumped several times when dating. I scored a 12. Currently, more like 2. I don't believe I've ever contemplated commiting suicide, although I do remember reading a lot about it and being fascinated by it when I was in college.
posted by JanetLand at 7:38 AM on March 13, 2006

Never & 4. Seek help but resist medicalisation.

My best suggestion: take up a voluntary position helping other people, or animals.
posted by unSane at 7:45 AM on March 13, 2006

I got a 6, partially because I just quit smoking.

It's probably somewhat delusional that I feel as good about myself as I do, but I'm sure there's no money in curing self-centeredness.

I hope everyone in the thread (not just anon) who got a high score takes this as an impetus to try and make a postive change in their lives. If that change is doctors and medication, so be it.
posted by popechunk at 7:47 AM on March 13, 2006

18, and my last two weeks have been quite stressful relatively. But next week if I took it I would score like a negative 20. My feelings swing wildly. But, suicidal thoughts are definitely a big red warning flag. I'm glad that you are curious about them and wondering (that seems to be a good sign that they are not overpowering), but willpower is not the solution to everything. If you want a real answer to your posted question, ask a psych. doctor.
posted by iurodivii at 7:47 AM on March 13, 2006

I've never contemplated suicide.

Today, I'm happy and mentally healthy and scored 1.

Thinking back to when I was severely depressed last year, I'd have scored about 37-46, depending on pessimism.
posted by Lotto at 7:51 AM on March 13, 2006

Got a 32 here.
I'd say, at least for me, it's accurate. And, yes, I've thought about snuffing it quite often. Though in a more passive mode. The "Hope I die in my sleep tonight." method. Not an effective method, to be sure. LOL
I've dealt with depression most of my life. Been in and out of too many counsellor's offices to count. I can't say that my opinion of the industry is very high. These days, it seems counseling is centered mostly on getting you on the best med that will help you be a good little worker again. I really don't see any emphasis on actually treating the depression (its root causes and whatnot). Rather, it's all about just getting you back on the treadmill with a chemically-induced smile on your face. I put this trend firmly at the doorstep of insurance companies that will only pay for a bare minimum of visits...and definitely not anything like long-term therapy.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:54 AM on March 13, 2006

My score is 29, with no obvious stressors, and it is excrutiating. Feels not unlike a physical pain throughout my upper torso. Seeing a shrink tomorrow.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:17 AM on March 13, 2006

0...I have often characterized myself as abnormally happy and self-satisfied, because I can barely identify with the concepts in the questions.
posted by nekton at 8:20 AM on March 13, 2006

I scored a 3.

I saw a therapist for a few months about a year ago. At the first session, we went over what had just happened in my life: My boyfriend of two years and I had just broken up, and he had been bordering on bipolar behavior that led him to blame everything wrong in his life on me in rather spectacularly hurtful ways, so I was trying to sort through that. My mother had just died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 56, and because we had had to decide to take her off life support I was dealing with a lot of guilt for feeling like I had "killed" her. Because of the breakup, I had just moved into a new apartment, by myself for the first time, and I had only been living in this city for six months at that time and so didn't have much of a support network.

As the therapist was wrapping up that session, she said, encouragingly, "Well, I don't think you're in any danger of hurting yourself." And it took my half a second to even realize that she was talking about suicide, because the thought had just never crossed my mind. I was sobbing for hours daily, all alone in a new city, and the thought had never crossed my mind.

Regardless of whether it's normal to be miserable, it's not right. You deserve a better life than the one you have now.
posted by occhiblu at 8:24 AM on March 13, 2006

To answer your other questions, I don't have any suicidal ideation currently, though a few years ago it was constant (no real intent, just images and words). Right now I feel like "something is terribly wrong", but I would prefer not to consider myself depressed, nor does it *feel* like talking about it would help, because everything is going really great for me right now.

Your question actually reminds me of one that I've been wanting to post. I think of it more like, "How do you reconcile your "mental illness" with philosophical questions re: psychiatry/psychology?" For example, knowing that culture is a factor in medicine (e.g. certain diagnoses come into fashion, certain diseases are culturally specific), how do people feel having one of these diagnoses, and how willing are they to medicalize or therapy-ize their mental states? I don't really have an answer to this, just thought I'd empathize with the question. I think it's a good one.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:32 AM on March 13, 2006

I was diagnosed with depression in 1995 and have been on various antidepressants and have seen a therapist since then. To see me now, you'd never know it...the meds (currently a wellbutrin/lexapro combination) manage it pretty well. I've never considered suicide, though. First of all, a few people in my high school committed suicide and I saw what it does to their family and friends. I could never put people I love through that. Second, even if I was so depressed I thought death was the only option, I could never go through with it. I'd be too chicken, plain and simple.
posted by SisterHavana at 8:45 AM on March 13, 2006

I feel excessively thirsty on a fairly regular basis, my score on the Diabetes Symptoms list is about a 36, some days my vision is really blurred, blah blah blah. Supposedly this means I am diabetic. However, it's hard for me to believe what I feel is all that different from what everybody else in the world deals with.

So is it? MeFites, what do you feel in your day-to-day life? Do you see the "classic signs of diabetes"? What's your Diabetes Symptoms score, if you don't mind me asking? And are you diagnosed with diabetes or do you consider yourself diabetic? Are my results really that abnormal?

It's hard for me to justify talking to a therapist or doctor about this if it's something everyone has to deal with. I don't want to go through the trouble and the medications if it's something that simply requires a bit more willpower.


Depression isn't something that you can just snap out of through sheer willpower -- depression is your inability to snap out of it. The fact that it's common doesn't mean that it's normal, any more than the widespread incidence of herpes or asthma or ADD would make them normal.

If you had symptoms of any other disease, you would go and get medication and use those tools to fight it off. If it were cancer, you would not see chemotherapy as a crutch. If it were a broken leg, you would not see physiotherapy as a sign that you lack willpower. The tools to fight depression include exercise, meditation, counselling, cognitive therapy, anti-depressants, etc. These are not crutches, they are available tools.

It is true that the symptoms of depression can show up in normal circumstances. We all feel blue from time to time. Many of us find ourselves in bleak circumstances and are tempted to give up sometimes. We get in frightening situations and feel anxious, and we should. Those reactions are there for a reason. But when those reactions are being triggered for no reason, there is something wrong.

Current Score: 2
Before anti-depressants & counselling: 28
posted by heatherann at 8:48 AM on March 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

I got a 3 just now, and even reflecting back to a bad time I would have only gotten a 17.
posted by danb at 8:51 AM on March 13, 2006

Anon, I commend your question, because it's not easy to start addressing the issue of depression. Depression is insidious--it creeps up slowly, colors your whole life, and affects the very organ that is supposed to be letting you know when things aren't quite right.

However: you are not everyone else. Everyone else is not you. Getting a statistical sampling of other Mefites' experiences is all well and good--I mean, I've been where you are, and I was there for ten years. I've been working at getting out of it for the past two and a half years. But what it really comes down to is you and how you feel. Do you want this trend of suicidal thinking to be a constant in your life, to be "normal"? It doesn't have to be.

Regarding the issue of meds, I'd direct you to my comment in another recent suicide thread. A competent practitioner is not going to dope you up to be mindlessly happy or a good drone; the goal is to allow you to function--to make the best of your inherent abilities, instead of being hemmed in and preoccupied by depression's inertia. Most will probably suggest looking into some form of talk therapy in combination with the meds.

In short, I agree with most everything scratch and heatherann said so eloquently upthread. And the email in my profile is good, if you'd like to talk privately with someone about this. (That applies to everyone in this thread who think they might be depressed and/or are beginning to seek help.)

Best of luck to you. It's not easy finding your way out of this, but it is well worth it.
posted by Vervain at 9:05 AM on March 13, 2006

I scored a 2.

I remember the last time I thought about killing myself. I was 15 back in the 80s and miserable in school. And I thought, just end it all. But then I swear I heard an audible click in my head and I had this thought: "You can do it tomorrow. There's always tomorrow. See what happens today first. You might have a good laugh, or eat something delicious, or see something beautiful. There's always tomorrow."
That gave me such a feeling of power. I've never seriously thought about it again.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:47 AM on March 13, 2006

I scored a 3, and it would have been a 0 or 1 if I wasn't currently a little pessimistic about a business I'm trying to get started.

I almost never even think about suicide, and never seriously contemplate it. Sometimes when I'm on a high bridge or something there's that moment of rush where I think about what it would be like if I jumped, but that's more for the thrill of scaring myself than a serious feeling of wanting to end my life.

When I was 16 I was pretty sure that I'd kill myself if I ever got to be 50 since I didn't want to be old. At 36, that doesn't seem like nearly as attractive an option though.

I'll echo the chorus. You should talk to somebody as soon as possible.
posted by willnot at 10:03 AM on March 13, 2006

No, and I scored a 4.

Reflecting on a particularly hard time a few years ago after a breakup of a long term relationship, I scored a 19.
posted by jerryg99 at 10:04 AM on March 13, 2006

I won't bother taking the test since I think any such test is silly. Let me also say, so you can put my advice in context, I find most of the pop psychology around depression to be pretty ridiculous. Heck, I have big problems with the entire psychology industry, but they're largely philosophical objections. It doesn't really matter to me whether psychologists actually help people or not. Anyways, my own experiences:

- I constantly entertain thoughts of suicide. This isn't "normal." Whenver I reveal this to most people they're completely shocked. But I do find it perfectly acceptable. I won't go into the long of it, but basically there is a certain type of person out there that has what's basically an over-active imagination. I've been like this since I was a child; one of my first memories is in fact a seven year old me questioning/thinking/wanting to die.

Note, though, that there is an enormous gap between thoughts of suicide and actually doing it. While you may think about it constantly, be honest with yourself and ask yourself if you'd ever really do it. Try to imagine under what conditions you might actually kill yourself. You probably can't even contemplate such a thing. Instead, I suspect you think about suicide so often because every little setback triggers a wild cascade of thoughts that leads inevitably to suicide. I'd say the very fact that you're able to reflect on your suicidal thoughts suggests that they aren't any risk to you.

- Hard to get out of bed... eh. I think, historically, this is the common case for 99.999% of humanity. And there's nothing wrong with this. There is this relatively modern notion that sleeping is bad, working is good, each day is an opportunity blah blah blah. It's bullshit. Don't let yourself be fooled by the continual pep talk that is pop culture. They're just trying to sell you shit.

In the end, any effort on your own part to self-diagnose yourself with depression will fail. It should be pretty clear why this is the case. I'd say your best bet is to:

(1) Talk with your friends and family and ask them if you seem depressed, the more opinions you can gather the better.

(2) Attempt to create some objective metrics that might help determine your Quality of Life such as goals you're accomplishing, your weight, etc. There ought to be empirical verification of the claim. You might also try writing down your feelings at random times during the day. You may find that for most of the day you're not sad at all it's just that you remember the sad parts more than the happy parts. Or you may find that certain people or places trigger these thoughts and it's really just an external influence.

(3) Talk to your physician and get her opinion. You don't need "justification" to talk to your doctor. She's not just there to fix what's wrong; a big part of her job is just addressing your concerns. That's pretty much why you pay her so much.
posted by nixerman at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2006

"It's hard for me to justify talking to a therapist or doctor about this if it's something everyone has to deal with. I don't want to go through the trouble and the medications if it's something that simply requires a bit more willpower."

I used to think this, and then I got treated for depression. (In my case, medicine, I know other people use various therapies. Whatever works.) Treatment was straightforward, just a small set of behavior changes, none of which I would have been able to do had I not had assistance from the antidepressants.

It's been about 5 years, and the change is night and day. I don't spend any time, or more importantly, energy dealing with just getting out of bed or trying not to have suicidal thoughts. In my case, I've put all that time I used to waste into getting right with my career, a new marriage, and basically a new life. It's not that you don' thave enough willpower, it's that this is a real thing that you can get help with, and when you do it changes your entire life profoundly and for the better.
posted by anildash at 10:17 AM on March 13, 2006

I contemplate suicide daily. I have Dysthymic Disorder, meaning that I am pretty much always somewhat depressed. It also means that I'm always at risk for spiraling into serious depressive episodes, which do occur off-and-on. My scores would vary from a low of about 12, to a high of, well, Mars Rover. This has been the case for over 35 years.

I have never been on medication for this. As a child and teenager, I was hostile to counseling, and smart enough to be able to deflect questioning. By the time I was mature enough to really understand what was going on, I'd learned to recognize the physical symptoms that accompany a typical episode and had developed sufficient coping mechanisms to get by without meds. In my case, it's just a chemical imbalance. I have no lingering traumas or unresolved issues, and though everyone goes through periods of heightened stress in their lives, for the most part, my life has been blessed. Which is to say that although suicidal thoughts occur to me with what most people would consider alarming frequency, I rarely pay them much attention. They are usually fleeting, reflexive thoughts. When things are going fine.

And here, I think, is the point I've been reaching for: things are not always going to be fine. Only you can know how many external stressors may be impacting you at the moment, but you didn't indicate any in your post, equating your state instead to "day-to-day" feelings. If you are scoring this high and are still trying to come to terms with how you compare to "normalcy," I would suggest that you seek professional help in managing this while you are still coping well enough to actually participate in your own recovery.

If you are scoring 36, your depression is already impacting your life in profound ways beyond just questions of whether you have enough "will power" to overcome suicidal thoughts. From career to inter-personal relations, all aspects of your life suffer when it is a struggle just to get through another damned day. If you have the option to remove such an unnecessary obstacle to your future success and happiness, I'd suggest you honestly, truly owe it to yourself to take the first step. Get yourself to a doctor.

One last thing that I think doesn't get stressed often enough in these threads: Aside from the "usual" chemical imbalances and emotional scars that can cause depression, there are also various medical conditions that can cause depression, some of which can be serious if untreated, and which you will want a doctor to rule out in your case.

Good luck to you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:25 AM on March 13, 2006

16, which matches about how I feel.

Yes everyone gets depressed sometimes. I've been battling anxiety and anxiety-related depression for a while. But I have never contemplated suicide. You are not "abnormal" but you do sound like you would benefit from talking to someone and possibly medication to help you cope. It's *not* simply willpower. When you get severely depressed it is difficult to do *anything.* It's not as easy as just getting out of bed. But if you take that first step and go to a therapist or doctor, you will be able to regain your willpower and take back your life.
posted by radioamy at 10:33 AM on March 13, 2006

The great thing about suicide is that it's not one of those things you have to do now or you lose your chance. I mean, you can always do it later.
-- Harvey Fierstein
posted by phhht at 10:34 AM on March 13, 2006 [3 favorites]

43, on antidepressants and it's been a good week. sheesh, that's depressing. ha ha.
posted by Bear at 10:37 AM on March 13, 2006

Dude, you are so fucking depressed. Get your ass to a therapist, and take whatever drugs you need to.

I lived where you are at for most of my twenties. What a waste of time. I don't regret much in my life, but wasting ten years claiming I wasn't depressed when I was in fact suicidal is definitely something I could have lived with out.

Once again -- get your sorry ass into therapy, and find out which anti-depressants work for you.
posted by tkolar at 10:44 AM on March 13, 2006

I'm amazed at the low results many people are getting. I too always assumed that the average person out there was at least somewhat miserable.

Oh, and to go back on topic: BDI 23, and a few 'suicidal tendencies' episodes recently, but these are not the norm for me.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 11:27 AM on March 13, 2006

Score now: 12. Score before I started using light therapy: 25 (a light box, dawn simulator, and probably just as importantly blackout curtains at night - it is unbelievable how much nicer a really dark bedroom is for sleeping).

Just something to consider, I am convinced that the problem is physiological but that doesn't necessarily mean that drugs are the only option. Whatever you do, do something and don't give up until you feel better. You can add my name to the list of people who regret taking so long to tackle their depression.
posted by teleskiving at 11:35 AM on March 13, 2006

ClarrisaWAM wrote...
I too always assumed that the average person out there was at least somewhat miserable.

Whether it's 'average' or not is somewhat beside the point. It's unhealthy, unhappy, and unneeded.

(sorry, just a little bitter about those 10 wasted years)
posted by tkolar at 11:42 AM on March 13, 2006

I'm a 5 nowadays, but I still think about suicide in passing. It's never serious or with a plan to carry it out, but when things get really tough it does enter my mind. I think it's just a vestige from when I was a teenager, when my then-self would have scored a 38.
posted by gatorae at 11:48 AM on March 13, 2006

"You can do it tomorrow. There's always tomorrow. See what happens today first. You might have a good laugh, or eat something delicious, or see something beautiful. There's always tomorrow."

I just wanted to say thanks for that.

Also, something obvious that bothers me about these self-tests: I scored quite high, but i've been feeling approximately the same for a long, long time - such that i lack sufficiently vivid memories to gage my answers to the questions with phrases like "more than usual/than i used to/not at all anymore". In other words, i've got no idea whether i'm exaggerating wildly, on the one hand, or whether considering that very possibility is also allowing me to disregard a serious problem. I'm guessing this is also the OP's motive for asking; though the methodology is questionable, I have to admit that it shocked me to read how many people scored in the single digits after taking the test myself.

FWIW, if I ever decided to get therapy, I think it would be an entirely narcissistic affair - that is, simply asking for some outside feedback on an intensely subjective question. I find it preferable to preserve the scrap of dignity it would cost me to effectively delegate responsibility for my own mental health to another person, or worse, a drug. (Hope no one minds me interrupting the chorus of psychiatry-cheerleaders. Insert disclaimer here, etc.)
posted by xanthippe at 11:59 AM on March 13, 2006

tkolar wrote
Whether it's 'average' or not is somewhat beside the point. It's unhealthy, unhappy, and unneeded.

But that's only relevant when you think/know you have a problem, and are aware that there may be a remedy. You (you tkolar, not you as in "one") can only really judge how unhappy you were now that you are so much better. But if "yeah well ain't great but gotta get on with life" is the only thing you know, then you have nothing to measure it against and may well think that it's just the human condition(for the record, I am aware of my own issues and have been in treatment, but quite a few people around me think like this).

And yes I do realize that's exactly the attitude you're trying to help people fight. Still works like this for many people though I believe.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:01 PM on March 13, 2006

I'm an 8 and did not choose anything higher than 1 on any question.
posted by kindall at 12:02 PM on March 13, 2006

I agree completely with xanthippe about it being undignified to delegate responsibility for mental health to another person or medication. That is why I also consider it the act of a weakling to use insulin for diabetes; delegating responsibility for insulin production from ones own pancreas is likewise undignified.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 PM on March 13, 2006

Justinian, I didn't intend to accuse those who seek the help of a therapist of being 'weaklings'; rather, just that my own daily internal struggle to take care of myself and experience/acheive moments of happiness is sufficiently meaningful to me (regardless of its rate of success) that I prefer to stick with it, rather than conceding before the game is over.

The diabetes analogy is a good one, but not applicable in all cases (for instance, my own, to the extent that I understand it). I think, if anything, we can agree that depression is 1) not the same for everyone; and 2) by far not well enough understood for anyone to argue that one kind of treatment, or even one of many available kinds, is categorically appropriate to anyone who subjectively judges himself to exhibit a broad and vaguely defined set of symptoms to some unquantifiable degree.
posted by xanthippe at 12:42 PM on March 13, 2006

I scored 11. 3 months ago I scored well over 40, before I saw a doctor and a therapist.
posted by arha at 12:52 PM on March 13, 2006

Oh, and having started to come out of that black pit, I know now it wasn't normal, but back then I was so apathetic and numb I didn't know the difference. I am not you, however.
posted by arha at 12:56 PM on March 13, 2006

Suicide crosses my mind every so often (no attempts since I was a teen) and 33.

I've been on meds for 18 months or so. The thing is that I feel okay - I'm not crying like I was (althought more frequently lately) nor am I sizing up bridge abutments on a daily basis. However, taking drugs (Effexor) hasn't changed my feelings about myself, no one can do that but me. I know what/who I am and I can't see how a shrink would help. Maybe upping my meds is in order.
posted by deborah at 12:58 PM on March 13, 2006

Anon, you sound just like me when I first thought I might be depressed.

Daily thoughs about suicide? Check.
Assuming everybody else was under the same pressure and I was just being a baby? Check
Crying several times a week for no particular reason? Check
Not answering "HELL YES" to the question about frequent crying because, you know, it's not like I cried every day? Yup.
Scoring off the charts in the depression inventory but thinking I took the test wrong or was overestimating how bad it was? Yes again.

Of course I was depressed. The horrible twist is that it was the depression that made me think I was just a loser, instead of someone who was actually sick.

It's not normal to feel this way. You are not just being weak. You are suffering and if you get your ass to a doctor you can stop it. I waited years to get help because I let myself believe what my depression was telling me.

Please get help. You need it. You deserve it. My email's in my profile if you need further convincing.
posted by stefanie at 1:08 PM on March 13, 2006

FWIW, if I ever decided to get therapy, I think it would be an entirely narcissistic affair - that is, simply asking for some outside feedback on an intensely subjective question. I find it preferable to preserve the scrap of dignity it would cost me to effectively delegate responsibility for my own mental health to another person, or worse, a drug

The thing is, there's absolutely nothing undignified in seeking therapy. It is, in fact, an active attempt to find and apply a solution; for a depressed person, it's a step of Herculean strength, at times. Using one's own faculties and logical systems, one recognizes that others have professional expertise in the phenomenon of depression, and seeks them out for what they can do to improve the condition.

Sometimes, with depression, the subjective reality has become so warped that it's not until you're presented with outside feedback that there's enough cognitive dissonance to make you say "Hey, wait a minute, I'm not thinking straight."

It might feel narcissistic, but guess what? You're entitled. It's no more narcisstic than going to the gym, getting a massage, or seeing a GP or GYN. It's taking care of yourself, and there's nothing wrong with drawing on the expertise of others to improve yourself (and, after all, it's their job and they're well paid to do it). In fact, I worry that a lot of depressives do feel that they have to suffer under their own problems because that's what a tough hero type does. But if a solution isn't working -- if your own Plans A, B, and C have not improved the depression, it's OK to opt out of that 'struggling warrior' mindset and get treated. It's better than letting more of our short time of life go by feeling gray.

Also, there are many types of therapy and many individual differences between therapists. In these threads, people often dismiss therapy, when they have limited or no experience with it. If you see a therapist and don't like them, don't agree with their philosophies or treatment style, or find it a waste of time, then you can move on to another one. IT's important to find one you 'click' with.
posted by Miko at 1:30 PM on March 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

It's hard for me to justify talking to a therapist or doctor about this

Yeah, that's what I said too. I think that in itself, is a symptom of depression. "I am not sick enough, not deserving enough, too wussy to seek medical attention. The staff will ridicule me for even daring to assume that something might be wrong. Also, I don't think I can be bothered to get out of bed today because I'm so lazy."

If you choose not to seek medical attention, may I suggest, if you are not already, try exercising? I personally hate exercise, but one hour a day keeps me off anti-depressants and mostly away from suicidal thoughts.
posted by b33j at 1:32 PM on March 13, 2006

I scored around a 25. However, no suicidal ideation.

I've been diagnosed with depression for over 10 years now, and have been on Wellbutrin for the past 5. It's worked wonders. However, I've felt the depression creep up again, and just last week my dose was upped slightly. I'm also doing other things, like more exercise, and I'm really looking forward to summer when the sun is out.

Caveat on my score: Over the past two weeks, I really only felt depressed in that first week. If I had to evaluate my score only over the past couple of days, it'd be more like a 5-6.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:41 PM on March 13, 2006

I think it would be an entirely narcissistic affair - that is, simply asking for some outside feedback on an intensely subjective question.

However, taking drugs (Effexor) hasn't changed my feelings about myself, no one can do that but me. I know what/who I am and I can't see how a shrink would help.

Sometimes, though, having a dispassionate third party to hear those intensely subjective beliefs we hold about ourselves/our lives can be a very helpful thing. Counseling, in my experience, isn't someplace where I go, vent, and then receive infallible advice on how to make it all better. Instead it's more like a very persistent voice that asks: "but why?" My counselor challenges my spoken and unspoken assumptions, which often leads to me a) fully articulating said assumptions, often for the first time, and b) asking myself what the reasoning is behind them. A lot of the time, my "logic" is something I'd consider total bullshit if I heard it from anyone else.

(True example: "I feel like shit, because no one is expressing romantic interest in me. But if anyone does/did, why, there must be something wrong with them, and I should steer clear. No one would ever do that unless they were a freak, or just screwing around with my mind.")

But then again, that's just me. One of the most frustrating things about this is that everyone's experience is going to be different, and threads like this one rarely result in a unanimous answer.

(On preview, stephanie, Miko and b33j all make very good points, especially about depression warping subjective reality.)
posted by Vervain at 1:49 PM on March 13, 2006

15. I'm moderately depressed, and would be seriously depressed if I weren't using zoloft.

I've posted this in comments before. Art Kleiner's How Not to Commit Suicide may be the best thing I've ever read.

As Occhiblu said - You deserve to feel better. You don't have to feel bad. I've considered suicide many times, and recognize it as a sign that I'm badly depressed. I've been badly depressed over and over again. I am incredibly thankful for the Prozac class of anti-depressants, which help me live my life. Not only do you deserve to feel better, but you can and will feel better, if you get good help.

Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 2:45 PM on March 13, 2006

I scored 3 points, all of which had to do with work-related stresses.

The Beck is a screening tool for use by professionals. It doesn't make a diagnosis; what it can do is point out some issues that could stand closer professional scrutiny.

Consider getting some of that scrutiny for yourself.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:55 PM on March 13, 2006

ClarissaWAM wrote...
But if "yeah well ain't great but gotta get on with life" is the only thing you know, then you have nothing to measure it against and may well think that it's just the human condition

I totally agree.

I also believe that directly stating to people that they are bullshitting themselves is one of the very very few things that another person can do to help with depression.

Depression is a wily beast, that will deny it exists and justify its existence at the same time. It is God's biggest joke on mankind, as is exemplified by xanthippe's assertion that a daily struggle with misery is somehow a game to be played out, and that professional treatment is the same as conceding.

That's right xanthippe, I'm calling bullshit. If you really want to take care of yourself, use all the resources at your disposal. Give up the "I can fight depression with both hands tied behind my back" bravado, and stand up for the real fight.

Not that I expect you will. Actually tackling depression with the full force of human ingenuity would be "conceding".
posted by tkolar at 3:30 PM on March 13, 2006

I don't contemplate suicide. I sometimes contemplate going on a rampage and killing a lot of people.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 7:40 PM on March 13, 2006

Everybody contemplates that, weretable.
posted by Justinian at 9:02 PM on March 13, 2006

46 here. Damn. But it was to be expected. I've had to take this same test regularly when I was seeing a cognitive therapist. He used it to test if the therapy was 'working' by comparing scores over time.

The scary thing is that 46 is actually an improvement for me.
posted by talitha_kumi at 1:34 AM on March 14, 2006

By the way, I resisted doing the inventory because this isn't a clinical setting and becuase it's superfluous -- I see a therapist. But I also was un-inclined to take it because I am going through one hell of a tough time right now, and have been feeling much sadder, more anxious, more self-critical, and more stressed than usual. And I have a history of depression. So I would have predicted a pretty high score for myself.

I got 10.

So yes; if you're answering those questions at 2s and 3s with great conviction, get somebody's help. It's extreme, and you don't need to keep feeling this way. There are real solutions.
posted by Miko at 7:42 AM on March 14, 2006

It's hard for me to justify talking to a therapist or doctor about this if it's something everyone has to deal with.

This is the sort of "I can't be exceptional, I must fit in" talk that I often hear from depressed friends. Many (or if you believe some figures, most) people go through phases of depression in their lives. The smart or lucky ones realize what's going on and can get help. You're either depressed or you're not and it doesn't matter whether the rest of the population has the same issue. Get help, please.
posted by mikeh at 8:46 AM on March 14, 2006

10, maybe 11. 36 sounds kind of high. Talking to someone can't hurt ... you are under no obligation to do what they suggest, right?
posted by R. Mutt at 4:24 PM on March 16, 2006

No points. There are downs, of course, when I would probably put 1 in some of the questions, but they're usually spurs that doesn't last for more than a day or so (or the amount of time I do something spesific that conspire the temporary decline in happiness).

I don't think I could ever go through with a suicide, but I think I understand those who contemplate it.
posted by Haarball at 1:15 AM on March 22, 2006

I scored 50 do I finally win a prize?
posted by meeshell at 6:33 PM on March 22, 2006

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