I’ve talked about how my wife has had several back surgeries. Right now she’s five months post-op from her last one and going through physical therapy. Whenever she’s having a rough day I always ask, “What’s your pain at?”
And she’ll usually give me a number that’s between 3-6 depending on the day. And my brain instantly translates that into something I understand. Five or six means we need to take a break from whatever we’re doing (if we’re out and about) and give her body some time to rest. Three or four means she might want some OTC medicine but she’s doing okay.
But when we talk about mental health, we don’t really have a scale.
When we say we’re depressed, we’re just… depressed. But what kind is it? The kind of depression where you have to call into work because you seriously can’t make yourself get out of bed, or the kind that follows you around all day like a cloud but you’re able to mostly ignore it?
I made a similar scale for anxiety. Somedays my anxiety is so low, I can ignore it like an unpleasant itch, but other days it’s this all-encompassing physical and emotional.
On my depression scale, this is what the levels look like for me.
Minimal: Small periods of depression that are easily brushed aside by engaging activities. I can ignore it.
Mild: I wake up feeling depressed and go to bed feeling depressed but I’m able to function throughout the day okay.
Moderate: Depressed all day. Changes in sleep, appetite, and daily functioning. Feeling numb or detached.
Severe: Unable to function. Inability to participate in daily life. Extreme changes to sleep/appetite. Suicidal ideation.
Debilitating: Serious thoughts of suicide. Unable to take care of myself. Constant crying or numbness. Hopelessness. In crisis. Feeling unable to go on.