Winter (well, that's the season for those of us in the Northern hemisphere at least) is a time when we can feel down in the dumps. But there's a big difference between being 'out of sorts' and having depression.
So how can you tell which you have? Doctors at the University of Auckland in New Zealand have come up with two key questions that they reckon can identify up to 96 per cent of all cases of depression.
The questions are: 'During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?' and 'During the past month, have you often been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?'
A patient who answers 'yes' to either or both is considered to be possibly depressed, needing further help, such as counselling.
The procedure seems almost simplistic, and yet the New Zealand team says it's remarkably successful, and is certainly an advance on existing screening techniques that are cumbersome and very hit-and-miss.
And if you're feeling a bit down yourself, you can ask yourself those same questions.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2003; 327: 1144-6).
*Ways to treat depression and other mental problems are outlined in the WDDTY Guide to Mental Health. You can order your copy by clicking on this link: http://www.wddty.co.uk/shop/details.asp?product=19