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Depression, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits

For more information on:   Social Security Disability and SSI Disability.

Depression, also referred to as unipolar depression, clinical depression, major depressive disorder and major depression, is a mental disorder that is most commonly known by sadness, grief, irritability, low mood and a loss of interest in normal activities. It is usually first experienced in early to mid adulthood and a diagnosis is made upon the patient’s reported experiences. Children may have depression as well, though it is oftentimes more challenging to diagnose than adults. There are no laboratory tests for depression, though sometimes a physician may run clinical tests for other conditions before making a diagnosis. A psychological evaluation usually follows a medical check-up. There are many diagnostic tools, such as surveys and questionnaires that help with the diagnosis of depression.

Depression can be a once in a lifetime event or reoccur throughout one’s life. The duration of depression can last for a short time, weeks or months, or be a present for a lifetime. Symptoms can include body aches, crying spells, low energy, low libido and a change in sleeping patterns, eating habits and weight. Those with depression may experience anxiousness, inappropriate guilt, difficulty thinking, pessimism, and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. They may feel sluggish and find themselves experiencing headaches and chronic pain. They may also withdrawal from social situations and in extreme cases have thoughts of death or suicide or attempt suicide. Usually these symptoms, with the exception of thoughts of suicide or a suicidal attempt, need to be present for at least two weeks before a diagnosis can be made.

Depression is oftentimes paired with other mental conditions, such as anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder. There are also different ratings of depression – from mild and moderate to severe, and different types and subtypes. Melancholic depression, postpartum depression and psychotic depression are just a couple.

The cause of depression is generally unknown, although there are many theories and risk factors that have been debated. Some of these factors are biological and some are psychological. The psychological factors are related around how a person developed as a child and how they handle environmental factors like stress. Many doctors feel that events can aid depression, such as abandonment, death, rejection, sexual abuse, work-related stress, trauma and a host of other stressful experiences. Biologically it is thought that depression can be genetic. It has been estimated that 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men experience depression because of genetics. It is also thought that serotonin and norepinephrine (the neurotransmitters that antidepressants effect) are less in those with depression, though it has not been scientifically proven. There are many other biological theories.

Today depression is regarded as a serious condition that can be disabling, though that was not always the case. Treatment includes psychotherapy, antidepressants and in severe cases when other treatments have not worked, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock. ECT is a treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in anesthetized patients for therapeutic effect.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related Body System Impairments:

Medical Documentation when you apply for disability with depression
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Should I List My Past Depression Medications on My Social Security Disability or SSI Application?
How do you apply for disability if you have depression?
Is it hard to qualify for Social Security benefits if you have depression?
Can disability be awarded for depression for a time until I am fully recovered?
Depression, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Dysthymia and Filing for Disability
Major Depressive Disorder (Depression) and Filing for Disability

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria