Are you blue for what appears to be no good reason? Maybe there is one. For each of the 10 questions that follow, mark the answer that best applies to you. An evaluation and a suggested course of action follow.
1. In a hurry to get home after a long day, you find yourself stuck in a mega–traffic jam. You:
a React typically by feeling frustrated and helpless. The traffic seems like just one more thing wrong in your life.
b Freak out and then find yourself feeling down. You wonder, Why can I sometimes take this kind of frustration in stride while other times it pushes me over the edge?
c Feel very discouraged. You had wanted to get home in time to have some predinner quality time with your youngster, who's struggling at school.
d Anxiously blame yourself for not planning your route home better. This leaves you with little time to make dinner before driving the kids to their music lessons.
e Pop in your favourite CD and try to relax, recognizing that the traffic is beyond your control.
2. Your ex calls to say he can't take the kids this weekend, disrupting your plans for a quiet couple of days alone. You feel:
a Weak ("If I had any salt, I'd stand up to him") and hopeless ("I'll never have time for myself").
b Dismayed. This is just one of those weeks when you can't seem to get along with anybody!
c Sad and emotional, partly on behalf of your kids. You know your ex has started seeing someone new and you're concerned about the effect that will have on them.
d Overwhelmed and defeated. You really needed the time to get caught up on housework.
e Resigned. He has done this before. Maybe you can salvage the situation by getting a babysitter and going to the gym on Saturday afternoon.
3. An opportunity for a promotion came up at work, but, although you applied for it, the job was given to a colleague. You:
a Feel like a failure.
b Are devastated but know that you'll get over your rather extreme reaction in a couple of weeks.
c Feel crushed, especially since you were already upset over a project that your boss wasn't happy with.
d Find that the news is a real letdown. The accompanying raise would have really eased your financial worries.
e Are disappointed and ask your boss for a meeting to discuss how you can acquire the skills needed to qualify for the next opportunity.
4. You have just read a newspaper article about a tragic accident. Naturally, it's upsetting, and you:
a Think that the world is a terrible place if things like this can happen.
b Start obsessing about such a thing happening to you or your newborn baby.
c Are plunged into sadness, reminded of a loved one's similar accident.
d Resolve to not read the paper for a while. Adding this kind of upsetting news to your existing concerns is too overwhelming.
e Feel sympathetic toward the victim and his family.
5. It's Saturday morning and your partner suggests that the two of you spend some time gardening – one of your favourite hobbies. The prospect:
a Makes you feel tired – even before you've so much as looked at a rake.
b Is appealing. Maybe digging in the dirt will be a good way to work off some restlessness.
c Reminds you of happier times when your kids were younger and enthusiastic about such things and didn't challenge every single word you said.
d Makes you feel guilty. You know there's work to do in the yard, in the basement, at the office, in the garage…
e Puts you in a great mood.
Page 1 of 3 - Read page 2 for the second part of the quiz!
Questions 6 - 10
6. The phone rings and the call display shows that it is your mother-in-law calling. You pick it up:
a Reluctantly (or maybe you don't pick it up at all). You just don't feel like talking to anyone.
b Apprehensively after flying off the handle last week. Why were you so nasty? You can't even remember what the issue was.
c Wishing she had called at a better time. You're still smarting from last week's argument with your own mom and wish that mothers, in general, would disappear for a while.
d Hoping that the conversation will be brief – and that it's not her asthma again, which will require that you drop what you're doing and rush over to her apartment.
e Immediately, glad it's not a telephone solicitation.
7. It's your birthday next week. Your primary thoughts are:
a "I certainly haven't accomplished what I had hoped to by now. What a loser I am!"
b "I hope I feel more like celebrating next week than I do right now. At least maybe there'll be chocolate."
c "I would be looking forward to it more if I hadn't just had a blowup with my best friend. I couldn't feel less like partying!"
d "What about my big project that's due next week? As if I need this right now, too."
e "I wonder if my family will take me out or surprise me at home?"
8. A friend calls, thrilled and gushing about her date last night with Mr. Possibly Right. You:
a Listen politely, feeling more hopeless about your own undesirability.
b Ask, "Was that the one with the hair plugs?" and then call back to apologize, wondering why you found her enthusiasm so irritating.
c Wish you could be happier for your friend. As it is, her news just makes you feel worse about your own recent breakup, marital spat or romantic drought.
d Listen with one ear while you write up a grocery list, feeling increasingly tense as your friend goes on without any sign of winding it up.
e Are attentive and excited for her.
9. You blow up at your spouse because you don't feel that he's carrying his share of the household responsibilities; the ensuing row fails to resolve the issue. The next day, you:
a Leave for work sad, blaming yourself entirely but unable to come up with a resolution.
b Apologize for blaming him, and suggest the two of you discuss the matter again when you're both feeling less emotional.
c Acknowledge that some of your frustration and despair would be more appropriately directed at your teenagers, who aren't pulling their weight.
d Recognize that if you weren't so overextended, you would have handled the matter differently.
e Decide to resolve the issue immediately by sitting the whole family down and working out a chores-and-responsibilities plan.
10. Which of the following statements best describes your feelings of sadness or "the blues"?
a "I feel down or depressed a lot – or even most – of the time."
b "I can be going along just fine, then hit an emotional low for no reason at all. It goes away, but it always comes back."
c "I'm a relatively happy person, but lately I've been in the dumps and can't seem to climb out."
d "I feel down when I go for a long time without having time for myself or when there's so much going on in my life that I feel out of control."
e "I feel sad sometimes, but I can make myself feel better and I generally enjoy my life."
Page 2 of 3 - Read page three for your results!
A score of 4 or more As indicates that you feel down - and excessively so - most of the time. You may even have symptoms of clinical depression. If you've felt this blue for more than two weeks, it would be a good idea to see a doctor. Perhaps you are suffering from the side-effects of a medication. Have you recently started taking a heart drug, for example? Alternatively, your doctor may suggest that you visit a psychotherapist, who might recommend cognitive therapy or antidepressants.
A score of 4 or more Bs suggests that the blues come and go in regular intervals, although you may not have noticed unless you've been keeping track in a diary. Such intervals may mean that your moods are following hormonal changes related to your menstrual cycle (PMS) or to perimenopause or menopause. Try keeping a journal or chart to record your mood or state of mind each day. If the evidence points to PMS-related depression, there are a number of things you can do. Simply switching to a different birth control pill might help. Many women find that a balanced diet - rich in carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium and vitamins E and B6, and low in fat, salt and caffeine - greatly relieves PMS symptoms, including mood swings. Others swear by increased activity and getting plenty of rest.
If you are among the estimated three to five per cent of women who suffer from debilitating PMS-related depression, you may require more dramatic intervention - such as prescribed antidepressants. "You take them for 14 days each month, from ovulation to menstruation," explains Dr. Shaila Misri, a practising psychiatrist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
A score of 4 or more Cs suggests that something has recently happened in your life that is making you feel down. These circumstantial blues could be linked to the death of a loved one, an illness or accident affecting a loved one, a troubled relationship or a job loss. Once you've identified the source, you can tackle it. Could you take time off work to grieve? Is there an unresolved issue with your partner that you need to deal with? Perhaps you need to seek outside help to deal with a troubled teen or financial difficulties. Just having a plan can get you on your way out of the dumps. Again, don't be afraid to take your concerns to a doctor; he might recommend a psychologist, therapist or grief specialist who could be helpful.
A score of 4 or more Ds is a strong signal that you're overextended. You might be constantly running against the clock while juggling a multitude of commitments, routinely feeling frustrated by tasks you can't get to or feeling inadequate because of jobs that are poorly done. If so, is it any wonder that you feel down? To get your life back, start by taking a 10-minute walk at lunchtime, going to bed half an hour earlier, having lunch with a friend or making a date to go out with your partner once a month. And give some thought to your physical health; quit smoking, curb your alcohol intake, go to bed earlier and make sure you're eating well.
A score of 4 or more Es suggests that even though you feel sad occasionally - as most people do - you've developed strategies for coping with problems and springing back. By and large, you lead a balanced life.
Page 3 of 3