Depression and SSD
Everyone experiences sadness at some point in their life, like when a beloved pet dies, a good friend moves away, or when they experience a major change, like a divorce or job loss. While emotions like grief, loneliness, and despair are never pleasant, most people are able to heal over time and bounce back into their normal lives. But for people who suffer from depression, shaking away the sadness isn’t always so easy.
Depression, also referred to as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a mood disorder that is primarily characterized by strong, persistent feelings of sadness and disinterest. Its causes include a variety of factors, from brain chemistry to genetics, and some people experience depression under certain circumstances. For example, some women experience post-partum depression after giving birth and some people suffer from depression in the winter months, a condition called seasonal affective disorder.
All in all, an estimated 17.3 million Americans suffer from some type of depression, according the National Institute of Mental Health. Their research also shows that depression tends to be more prevalent among women, and people between the ages of 18 and 35 are the most likely to experience depressive symptoms.
Since depression has many shapes and forms, the symptoms can vary from person to person. That said, some common symptoms include:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty with concentration
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and restlessness
- Sad, anxious, or empty feelings
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Suicide is one of the largest risk factors for people with depressive disorders. Over 90% of people who die via suicide suffer from depression, with young people at the greatest risk. This is why it is incredibly important that depression is recognized, treated, and regarded just like any other serious health condition.
Like the symptoms, treatments for depression vary. Medications and therapy are the most common remedies, and many people chose to use a combination of the two to effectively address their mental health. Regardless of the method of treatment, depression can be very expensive to treat. It can also interfere with daily life, causing people to miss work and experience lost wages. This is why many people apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits to cope with the lost income. In fact, depression is the second most commonly listed disorder on SSD applications.
Does Depression Qualify for SSD?
To qualify for SSD benefits, a person with depression must display, either occasionally or consistently, at least five of the symptoms listed by the Social Security Administration (SSA):
- Depressed mood
- Decreased interest in almost all activities
- Appetite disturbance resulting in a change in weight
- Sleep disturbance, like insomnia or oversleeping
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- A slowing of physical movements and reactions or increased physical agitation
Additionally, the SSA must find that the depression causes a loss of abilities. These abilities include:
- Understanding, remembering, or applying information
- Interacting with others
- Concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace in performing tasks
- Adapting or managing oneself
If someone is severely limited in their ability to perform at least two of these abilities, their depression may be considered severe enough to qualify for SSD.
Sometimes, depression might not feel like a “real” disease because it’s a mental illness. However, when depression becomes debilitating and hinders work or social life, it is a very real problem indeed. It needs to be treated — and considered as a cause for SSD benefits — just like any other serious disorder.
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