The Mental Health Disability Series-Depression

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has listed the condition commonly known as “depression” as a basis to obtain Social Security disability benefits. Depression is actually under a broader category of mental impairments called “Affective Disorders”. So what are “Affective Disroders”?

“Affective Disorders” is a psychiatric term used to describe a mental condition with multiple sides or faces which affects a person physically, mentally, socially and behaviorally. Commonly included within this disorder are major depressive disorders, bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders. Major Depressive Disorder (also known as “monopolar depression” as opposed to “bipolar depression”) has as its hallmark an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.

In order to meet the listing for depression (Listing 12.04), SSA must first find that the disease has at least 4 of the following 9 symptoms are present: 1. anhedonia, or pervasive loss of interest in almost all activities; 2. appetite disturbance with change in weight; 3. sleep disturbance; 4. psychomotor agitation or retardation; 5. decreased energy; 6. feelings of guilt or worthlessness; 7. thoughts of suicide; 8. difficulty concentrating or thinking; or 9. hallucinations, delusions or paranoid thinking.

Just telling SSA that you have these symptoms is not enough. These symptoms must be present in your medical treatment records and found to be in existence for at least a continuous period of 1 year or expected to last for at least 12 continuous months. However, the source from which the medical record may note these symptoms may include, you, your family and friends and the physician/therapist’s assessment.

In addition to proving that 4 of the 9 symptoms set out above are present, the symptoms identified must cause “marked” limitations in 2 of the following 4 areas: 1. restriction of activities of daily living; 2. difficulties in maintaining social functioning; 3. difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence of pace; 4. episodes of decompensation).

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