The PH9 questionnaire is something I fill in almost every time I visit my counselor, and regularly when I visit the doctor. It’s supposed to measure how depressed or anxious you are by asking questions about the previous fortnight. The score determines your level of depression.
It doesn’t work. Or more precisely, I find that the results can be misleading. When I fill in the questionnaire, my mindset in that moment determines how I see the previous two weeks.
If I’m having a bad day, the sort of day when getting out of bed is difficult and I only showed up for the appointment because they’ll cancel the counselling sessions if I miss one, everything about the previous fortnight will be coloured by my depression, even if I hadn’t felt too awful most days.
On the other had, if I’m having a good day, then I’m less likely to give much weight to depression and anxiety feelings, even if in the last two weeks I’ve wanted to cry every day, slept constantly, or had insomnia, had a couple of nasty anxiety attacks and generally felt crap.
I’ve filled in many, many PH9 questionnaires, and have observed this in myself. I wonder how many people have the same experience, and how many have had their mental health conditions dismissed as ‘mild’ because they happen to fill it in on a good day?
My PH9 score on Monday morning was 7, mildly depressed, ten days before it was 17. Moderate to very depressed. I don’t believe my depression suddenly got better by ten points in ten days.
Depression can be cyclical; it just so happens that I’m on my way out of the pit at the moment (just as I’m about to have my ESA and PIP assessments *sigh*), which is why, for the first time in almost a year, I can think clearly enough to write this. It doesn’t mean I’m magically cured and will never be depressed again. I’m still depressed and ridiculously anxious, but for now it’s manageable. ‘For now’ is the important part in that sentence.
My insomnia is back though. Haven’t seen that in a few months, so I’m not holding my breath that this upswing will last long.