People who suffer from depression can often wonder, is depression a disability? At times, severe depression can be life altering and leave you unable to function normally, and then you might find yourself not being able to function at all. If you suspect you have major depression, but are unsure whether or not it qualifies as a disability, then you need the help of your doctor to be sure.
There are two types of depression
clinical depression and dysthymia. Clinical depression is less severe than major depression and displays symptoms like sleep problems, overeating and/or gain weight, and/or feel worthless, helpless, and sad. Dysthymia (sometimes referred to as bipolar disorder) displays symptoms like frequent mood swings, anxiety/overwhelming thoughts, irritability, and trouble thinking. Symptoms of dysthymia are more likely to persist over time than would be expected for those with clinical depression. Because this disorder is usually chronic, many people believe they suffer from depression longer than they actually do, and some even go on to seek treatment for the condition. This can lead to serious depression misdiagnoses, which can lead to more distress for the patient.
So what about depression, if indeed it is a disability? Well, the answer depends on whether you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. If you are experiencing a severe medical condition and are having trouble paying for your medications, your doctor may recommend you get tested for anxiety and/or depression. In some cases, depending on the severity of your disability, you will not get benefits, as the tests are considered to be medically unnecessary and would strain your health and financial situation too much.
What if depression isn’t a disease? Is it still a disability? Depressed patients frequently report feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and other types of mental disorders that have nothing to do with being ill or disabled. These feelings may be deep and longstanding, or they may surface periodically due to stress or an event. For example, if someone becomes depressed over a perceived slimmest of success at work, they could report this depression as a form of “anxiety depression,” which is completely normal.
However, there are other types of depression that truly do constitute a disabling impairment. The difference between these types of depression is their intensity and duration. People suffering from severe, long-term depression may feel depressed for months or years before their condition worsens. Likewise, people may feel depressed occasionally but be cured of the depression once the seasonal depression wanes.
Along with feeling depressed, people with a depressive disorder may also exhibit a range of other symptoms like irritability, sleep disturbance, fatigue, muscle tension, and muscle pain. If you’re feeling a combination of feelings, and are suspecting that you have a depressive disorder, seek medical documentation of your symptoms. Also make sure to document how you’re feeling on a daily basis, including whether or not you feel tired or sleepy, and whether you are experiencing restlessness, hopelessness, or changes in appetite or weight. These symptoms can all point to a very serious medical condition.
How is depression a disability?
If you suffer from severe, long-term depression, you could be a victim of a condition that can significantly disrupt your quality of life. Unfortunately, many people living with depression do not recognize that they have a problem. Even when other people in their lives to point out that something is wrong, these people often do not realize that the problem is significant enough to hinder their ability to live a regular life. If you feel that you may be suffering from a depression, you should immediately set up an appointment with your physician so that he or she can assess your situation and determine whether or not you might qualify for disability benefits under the SSI, or Social Security Disability Insurance.
SSI and DSIP require that you be suffering from at least the most severe of symptoms for a period of more than six months. If you are suffering from any combination of symptoms for this long, you’ll likely qualify for disability benefits. It is important to note, though, that even if you suffer from a mild form of depression, if you are living with other disabling conditions, such as alcoholism, drug abuse, and/or another mental illness, you will still need to speak to a qualified physician to determine whether or not you are eligible for SSI or DSIP. For a summary of how severe your symptoms must be, you should contact the nearest office of the Social Security Administration for assistance.