How Depressed Are You?

Just try this questionnaire to know how depressed are you

THE AUTOMATIC
THOUGHTS QUESTIONNAIRE

Listed below are a variety of thoughts that pop into people’s
heads. Please read each thought and indicate how frequently, if
at all, the thought occurred to you over the last week. Please read
each item carefully and indicate the appropriate response, using
the scale below.

5 = All the time
4 = Often
3 = Moderately often
2 = Sometimes
1 = Not at all

1. I feel like I’m up against the world.
2. I’m no good.
3. Why can’t I ever succeed?
4. No one understands me.
5. I’ve let people down.
6. I don’t think I can go on.
7. I wish I were a better person.
8. I’m so weak.
9. My life’s not going the way I want it to.
10. I’m so disappointed in myself.
11. Nothing feels good anymore.
12. I can’t stand this anymore.
13. I can’t get started.
14. What’s wrong with me?
15. I wish I were somewhere else.
16. I can’t get things together.
17. I hate myself.
18. I’m worthless.
19. I wish I could just disappear.
20. What’s the matter with me?
21. I’m a loser.
22. My life is a mess.
23. I’m a failure.
24. I’ll never make it.
25. I feel so helpless.
26. Something has to change.
27. There must be something wrong with me.
28. My future is bleak.
29. It’s just not worth it.
30. I can’t finish anything.

SCORING

To find your score, simply add together your responses for the 30
items.

NORMS

SCORE...........PERCENTILE
..60......................85
..55......................70
..49......................50
..43......................30
..38......................15

About the Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire

We have learned a great deal about depression over the past few
decades. Much of this research has focused on the biological underpinnings
of depression, and this work has led to a number of
new and effective medications. And while these advances have
undoubtedly helped to improve the quality of life for countless
people, a number of people, including yours truly, are concerned
that the biological view of depression has been oversold.
We are living in a time when Prozac is one of the medications
most widely prescribed not only by psychiatrists but by family
practitioners as well. Although it seems like a simple solution to
life’s problems, there is good reason to believe that taking a pill
is not always the best solution for depression.
Among those with a healthy dose of skepticism about drugs always
being the best answer are the authors of the Automatic
Thoughts Questionnaire, Drs. Steven Hollon and Philip Kendall.
They argue that thoughts play a critical role. A number of investigators
have collected convincing evidence that certain
thoughts, or cognitions, can both initiate and maintain a depressive
episode. Hollon and Kendall developed the Automatic
Thoughts Questionnaire to assess the sorts of cognitions that are
associated with depression. Their goal was to develop a test that
would be useful in gauging the progress of psychotherapy, but it
can also be useful for those of you who are prone to experiencing
these feelings. If you do have such episodes and you had a
high score on this test, the odds are excellent that by changing
your automatic thoughts you could feel considerably better.
Please note that the norms were based on nondepressed college
students. So even if your score was above the 85th percentile, it
does not necessarily mean that you are seriously depressed. As always,
if you suspect that you are, you should consult a mental
health professional.
I know all too well that changing one’s thoughts is easier said
than done, but it can be accomplished with a concerted effort.
The first step is to recognize that the types of thoughts reflected
in the items in this test are indeed irrational—but recognizing
this is often difficult for depressed people to do. I had a client a
few years ago, for instance, who came to therapy for help with
her depression. This young woman was about to graduate from a
prestigious university and had been accepted to an equally prestigious
graduate school where she planned to obtain her Ph.D.
Sounds impressive, right? Well, she was depressed because she
was “such a failure.” As evidence, she pointed to her rejection
from her first choice of a graduate school and to two classmates
who had higher grade point averages than her own.
What seems so obvious to an outside observer can be impossible
for the depressed person to believe. I’m not sure I ever completely
convinced this young woman that her assessment of
herself as a failure was irrational. She was saying the right things
by the end of our brief therapy and she reported feeling better,
but I suspect that she continued to harbor the belief that she was
a failure because she did not graduate number one in her class
and was not accepted to the most prestigious graduate school.
The truth is that the sorts of thoughts people have can be, and
often are, independent of what they are doing with their lives.
We have all known people who seem to make a mess of everything
they try, yet they remain convinced that their only problem
is that others fail to recognize their greatness. The important
point is that even when we experience disappointments, we are
not justified in concluding that we are worthless or doomed to a
life of failure.
The first step in modifying the automatic thoughts that are
contributing to your feelings of depression is to go through the
list of items and find a more realistic view for those that you endorsed.
Most depressed people, for instance, endorse item 21,
“I’m a loser.” They may even cite a failure or two as examples of
what losers they are. But we’ve all heard stories of people who
have had countless failures before they reached their goals. Having
a failure experience is just that—a failure experience. It does
not make one a loser.
The next step is to make a concerted effort to substitute a
more realistic, positive thought every time you experience the
negative thought. If you have the persistent thought, for instance,
that you are a loser, have a substitute thought ready. Perhaps
it would be, “Yes, I failed at that project, but the next time
around I’ll be ready and I’ll do better.” Another good thought
would be, “Yes, I failed at that project, but let me review all the
successes that I’ve had.” Thoughts can be habits the same way
that behaviors are. So just as one can conquer the bad habit of
biting one’s fingernails by engaging in a substitute behavior
whenever the urge to bite strikes, one can modify negative automatic
thoughts with a sustained effort to substitute more positive,
realistic thoughts for the negative automatic thoughts.
This approach to treating depression is called cognitive therapy.
Aaron Beck is responsible for articulating this theory, and he
has suggested that depressed people tend to make several types
of logical errors in their thinking. Magnification and minimization
are two common such errors—errors that my young client
described above was guilty of making. She magnified her failures—
namely, her “failure” to graduate at the top of her class
and her failure to gain admission to her first choice of graduate
school. That she was unable to take pride in her graduating third
in her class and being admitted to one of the top graduate programs
in the country was a result of her tendency toward minimization.
Another common error described by Beck is arbitrary
inference. An example of this is the person who believes that a
flat tire is evidence that he or she is a loser. Depressed people often
interpret impersonal events as evidence of their failures as
human beings.
The belief of researchers such as Hollon, Kendall, and Beck
that cognitions are crucial is supported by evidence that cognitive
therapy may be as effective as medication in the treatment of
depression. This debate has not been settled, but after treatment
has been concluded there is good reason to believe that people
who receive cognitive therapy are less likely to have a relapse
than people receiving medication. I suspect the debate as to
which form of treatment is best will not be resolved anytime
soon, but the evidence is clear that modifying cognitions can
play a very important role in alleviating depression for many
people. It is hard work, but I urge you to give it a try if depression
is one of your barriers to a happier, more satisfying life.

1 comments:

The tool is nice, but the percentile should tell more about the depression rating, like upto which point it is ok and upto which point it is not ok.
It should give more insights

July 9, 2009 at 9:20 AM  

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