Depression can mean many things to different people; however not all episodes of depression are disabling. A person suffering from disabling depression will be experiencing a prolonged period of depression which clouds the person’s judgment, thoughts, and/or experiences. Everything and everyone around the depressed person is a negative experience in the person’s thought process.
The best way to explain this type of depression is tell a story of a woman that had absolutely no idea that she was suffering from severe depression; although everyone around her knew. She never had a kind word to say, was always unhappy about the littlest of things and could not hold down a job. She would work for a week, a month, sometimes a few months and it would all come crashing down. In her mind, it was never her fault that she had lost so many jobs. There was always a problem or complaint with the supervisor, the co-worker, her schedule, or the work environment. She did not recognize any of her own symptoms. It was not until her husband started therapy and she was asked to join that she finally started to understand. It was not easy for her to accept that the biggest problem in her own family was her battle with depression. And it truly is a battle.
Depression can make an individual not able to complete daily chores of life. There are days when the depressed person cannot get out of bed to face the world. Often times the depressed person will think that there is some physical problem because their bodies can be hurting all over or they can be experiencing episodes of nausea or diarrhea. There can be changes in weight, loss of interest in almost all activities, thoughts of suicide, and/or feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness. These individuals usually do not like to be around anyone and have a very hard time getting things done.
On the other hand, some depressed individuals also suffer from a dependant personality disorder and cannot do anything by themselves. They need to have their “hand held” to do anything. They will not make their own doctors appointments, go the appointments, pick up prescriptions, or leave the house period without someone being with them or doing it for them. These individuals need to be reminded to bathe, eat, change their clothes and basically do the chores of daily life. It is especially difficult for the caregiver when they refuse to go to treatment.
Our office always instructs the individual seeking disability for a mental impairment to obtain as much treatment as possible. We often find that a person suffering from mental illness will be treating with their PCP, who is prescribing some type of psychiatric medication. The first thing that I tell these individuals is that we cannot have “the plumber fixing the roof.” It is very important that the individual be seen by a mental health professional, be it a therapist, a counselor, a psychologist and/or psychiatrist. That way the proper medical professional is treating the individual and can offer an expert opinion on the severity of the condition. We are also very fortunate in the Western Pennsylvania area to have partial hospitalization programs where the individual can receive extensive therapy during the day, many times a week, without being hospitalized overnight. If you think you are suffering from a disabling problem and would like to discuss it further, please give me a call.

Disclaimer: These pages are only observations from my point of view of some of the factors that are present in the diagnosis. I am not a doctor, I am a lawyer and I am only providing observations of various signs and symptoms that I have seen during my practice and/or the signs and symptoms that I evaluate when taking a client in front of an Administrative Law Judge.