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    Does anyone know why GPs refer to depression as 'low mood'? For example I have a friend who said that she was at her GP and she could see the doctor's screen which said that her medication is prescribed for 'depression', and the doctor was like 'you take the medication for low mood yes?' Any medical students who can explain this? It honestly feels pretty invalidating for a doctor to say that a condition that leads me to feel awful despair and think about killing myself is 'low mood'. There's much more to depression than feeling sad.
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    (Original post by redinthegrey)
    Does anyone know why GPs refer to depression as 'low mood'? For example I have a friend who said that she was at her GP and she could see the doctor's screen which said that her medication is prescribed for 'depression', and the doctor was like 'you take the medication for low mood yes?' Any medical students who can explain this? It honestly feels pretty invalidating for a doctor to say that a condition that leads me to feel awful despair and think about killing myself is 'low mood'. There's much more to depression than feeling sad.
    I think it's quite common for GPs and mental health professionals to refer to depression as low mood. Doesn't mean they don't think you have the condition at all. I think part of it is trying to avoid attaching medical terms to everything.

    I know quite often when I write notes or talk to people with depression I use low mood instead of depression just to avoid being medicalised. Also you get people who find it hard to admit they have depression or find it upsetting to be referred to as having something wrong with them, so low mood is a safer bet.


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    I know what you mean, depression isn't just intense persistent sadness, it can also be fear, complete exhaustion or total numbness and feeling nothing at all. Sometimes (for me) the sadness is better because in a strange way I sometimes find wallowing in it comforting. And I am feeling SOMETHING. At least I feel some relief from having a good cry. Just feeling blank is really scary! I think like the above poster said sometimes they don't want to medicalise it / label it / misdiagnose.


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    (Original post by redinthegrey)
    Does anyone know why GPs refer to depression as 'low mood'? For example I have a friend who said that she was at her GP and she could see the doctor's screen which said that her medication is prescribed for 'depression', and the doctor was like 'you take the medication for low mood yes?' Any medical students who can explain this? It honestly feels pretty invalidating for a doctor to say that a condition that leads me to feel awful despair and think about killing myself is 'low mood'. There's much more to depression than feeling sad.
    Actually it is not the same. If the official records say 'low mood', you don't have an official depression diagnosis. This doesn't mean anything in real life of course, it's all about how you feel but e.g. in court, low mood diagnosis would not be considered the same thing as depression.
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    (Original post by Ciel.)
    Actually it is not the same. If the official records say 'low mood', you don't have an official depression diagnosis. This doesn't mean anything in real life of course, it's all about how you feel but e.g. in court, low mood diagnosis would not be considered the same thing as depression.
    I think I was officially diagnosed when I was younger? But my patient summary at my GP says 'depressed mood' I should really have an official diagnosis so I can use it as medical evidence...
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    (Original post by bullettheory)
    I think it's quite common for GPs and mental health professionals to refer to depression as low mood. Doesn't mean they don't think you have the condition at all. I think part of it is trying to avoid attaching medical terms to everything.

    I know quite often when I write notes or talk to people with depression I use low mood instead of depression just to avoid being medicalised. Also you get people who find it hard to admit they have depression or find it upsetting to be referred to as having something wrong with them, so low mood is a safer bet.


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    But what's the problem with medicalising it? By not treating it as a medical condition you're implying that people shouldn't be getting as much support from the medical profession as they would for an actual illness? 'Low mood' sounds to me like a symptom more than anything. My 'low mood' (and that of others with depression) is often accompanied by lack of concentration, sleeping problems etc. So to describe it as 'low mood' isn't accurate. If you're worrying about stigmatising a patient, surely the best thing to do is ask them what term they feel comfortable with? It's kind of awkward to ask my GP why they use the term they do.
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    I have problems with the medical model of mental illness, but if you're working *within* the medical profession rejecting 'labels' can be pretty unhelpful to patients imo. I used to have a CPN who I literally never recall specifically mentioning ANY of my diagnoses. It made me feel like I was generally mentally ill in some unknown way which doesn't really help with self-understanding
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    My GP used to use the term 'low mood' and I preferred that, it felt less scary and I felt hopeful things would get better. When she was trying to convince me to take medication she said to me that I meet the criteria for moderate to severe depression, that was a really shock to me and actually made me feel worse, like this was something that might not go away and I would have to live with it indefinitely, to me 'low mood' feels more optimistic like it will be a transient thing that I will get better from
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    (Original post by redinthegrey)
    But what's the problem with medicalising it? By not treating it as a medical condition you're implying that people shouldn't be getting as much support from the medical profession as they would for an actual illness? 'Low mood' sounds to me like a symptom more than anything. My 'low mood' (and that of others with depression) is often accompanied by lack of concentration, sleeping problems etc. So to describe it as 'low mood' isn't accurate. If you're worrying about stigmatising a patient, surely the best thing to do is ask them what term they feel comfortable with? It's kind of awkward to ask my GP why they use the term they do.
    In my opinion, avoiding the use of a psychiatric label when talking to people does not mean that I think people should not be getting medical help. I'll mention my background so you can understand where I have come from - I am currently a student social worker, I am just about to finish a placement working in a mental health charity and before that I worked as a peer support worker in a NHS recovery team and a crisis team.

    Yes, I would say that low mood is a symptom and I recognise and accept that depression has a large set of symptoms. However, it is important to note that you don't need all the symptoms listed to get the diagnosis, therefore every person with depression has a completely different set of symptoms, and most importantly, an unique experience. When I am assigned a new service user to work with, I get their psychiatric diagnosis. But it doesn't tell me anything about them or their experiences - it just fills my head with assumptions regarding that diagnosis. e.g. schizophrenia means hearing voices and delusions. I like to get to know the person individually which includes their individual experiences, rather than a label.

    There is a change in how mental health services and primary care services work with mental health now, moving away from diagnostic labels to talking about individual experiences (or symptoms). Personally, I feel that this makes more sense. I am diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder. Someone talking about the diagnosis as a whole makes no sense - instead asking me about my mood, any voices, any paranoia, any concentration issues etc. makes more sense. Instead of focusing solely on depression as a diagnosis, why not explore someone's mood, someone's sleep pattern, their concentration and ability to enjoy things.

    At the end of the day, it is a personal preference for the professional, but in my opinion, it makes more sense to look at someones experiences rather than label. It doesn't deny them medical treatment, it doesn't mean they do not have an illness, it simply allows the professional to explore more widely their issues without putting them in a box and assuming what experiences or symptoms they have. Sometimes patients will prefer to talk about the label and yes, we can discuss then, but in my experience, and from talking to other professionals, it is better practice to talk about how they actually feel, and in the case of depression, the affect is probably one of the most important components.
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    (Original post by bullettheory)
    In my opinion, avoiding the use of a psychiatric label when talking to people does not mean that I think people should not be getting medical help. I'll mention my background so you can understand where I have come from - I am currently a student social worker, I am just about to finish a placement working in a mental health charity and before that I worked as a peer support worker in a NHS recovery team and a crisis team.

    Yes, I would say that low mood is a symptom and I recognise and accept that depression has a large set of symptoms. However, it is important to note that you don't need all the symptoms listed to get the diagnosis, therefore every person with depression has a completely different set of symptoms, and most importantly, an unique experience. When I am assigned a new service user to work with, I get their psychiatric diagnosis. But it doesn't tell me anything about them or their experiences - it just fills my head with assumptions regarding that diagnosis. e.g. schizophrenia means hearing voices and delusions. I like to get to know the person individually which includes their individual experiences, rather than a label.

    There is a change in how mental health services and primary care services work with mental health now, moving away from diagnostic labels to talking about individual experiences (or symptoms). Personally, I feel that this makes more sense. I am diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder. Someone talking about the diagnosis as a whole makes no sense - instead asking me about my mood, any voices, any paranoia, any concentration issues etc. makes more sense. Instead of focusing solely on depression as a diagnosis, why not explore someone's mood, someone's sleep pattern, their concentration and ability to enjoy things.

    At the end of the day, it is a personal preference for the professional, but in my opinion, it makes more sense to look at someones experiences rather than label. It doesn't deny them medical treatment, it doesn't mean they do not have an illness, it simply allows the professional to explore more widely their issues without putting them in a box and assuming what experiences or symptoms they have. Sometimes patients will prefer to talk about the label and yes, we can discuss then, but in my experience, and from talking to other professionals, it is better practice to talk about how they actually feel, and in the case of depression, the affect is probably one of the most important components.
    Hi, sorry, I assumed you were a medical student or something. Thanks for your thoughts. I do see the point that there's more to treatment than labels, and that labels can fill the heads of professionals with misleading assumptions. But I maintain that to totally throw labels out of the window can be confusing and invalidating for patients. When I was inpatient my primary diagnosis was clearly anorexia nervosa but as an outpatient there was much less of a focus on labels to the extent that I felt unsure what was wrong with me. This is not helpful when you consider how if you are filling in informational forms for work or school, applying for benefits, etc, it is strongly preferred that you have a specific label. Not using labels is very idealistic and it isn't based in how the world actually works for people with mental illnesses (same with neurodevelopmental conditions - great if someone thinks that the label of autism is stigmatising etc - this is true. but the world at large is not remotely gonna be ok with you not knowing what your issue is. they don't care if you might have autism. in their view you're autistic or you aren't). I'm not stupid and I'd really appreciate if professionals actually told me why they don't use labels with me. It's confusing, because when I look at other people I've interacted with, a lot of them have easily managed to receive labels which have helped them to be recognised as mentally ill people. I struggle to receive proper recognition as a mentally ill, neurodiverse person because my records just say 'depressed mood'. The way I've been treated has made me question whether mental illness even exists or if I'm just useless and a bad person. For a lot of people, the simple label of 'depression' or 'anxiety' or whatever makes them feel so understood and as though they're not wasting the time of the professional they're talking to? Of course I'm not everyone and labels can also have detrimental effects, but I feel like this is a nuanced enough issue for it to be something that professionals should talk to their patients about (and by that I don't mean waiting for them to ask, because I get the feeling that I would be met with defensiveness).
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    Low test levels in males = depression.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I think I was officially diagnosed when I was younger? But my patient summary at my GP says 'depressed mood' I should really have an official diagnosis so I can use it as medical evidence...
    I think something like depressed mood or low mood could still be used as evidence.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    I think something like depressed mood or low mood could still be used as evidence.
    Yeah I've used a note saying 'low mood' to explain an extension I got for my course. Not sure if it will be sufficient for bigger things though
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    (Original post by GettingitDone)
    Low test levels in males = depression.
    eh?
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Hi, sorry, I assumed you were a medical student or something. Thanks for your thoughts. I do see the point that there's more to treatment than labels, and that labels can fill the heads of professionals with misleading assumptions. But I maintain that to totally throw labels out of the window can be confusing and invalidating for patients. When I was inpatient my primary diagnosis was clearly anorexia nervosa but as an outpatient there was much less of a focus on labels to the extent that I felt unsure what was wrong with me. This is not helpful when you consider how if you are filling in informational forms for work or school, applying for benefits, etc, it is strongly preferred that you have a specific label. Not using labels is very idealistic and it isn't based in how the world actually works for people with mental illnesses (same with neurodevelopmental conditions - great if someone thinks that the label of autism is stigmatising etc - this is true. but the world at large is not remotely gonna be ok with you not knowing what your issue is. they don't care if you might have autism. in their view you're autistic or you aren't). I'm not stupid and I'd really appreciate if professionals actually told me why they don't use labels with me. It's confusing, because when I look at other people I've interacted with, a lot of them have easily managed to receive labels which have helped them to be recognised as mentally ill people. I struggle to receive proper recognition as a mentally ill, neurodiverse person because my records just say 'depressed mood'. The way I've been treated has made me question whether mental illness even exists or if I'm just useless and a bad person. For a lot of people, the simple label of 'depression' or 'anxiety' or whatever makes them feel so understood and as though they're not wasting the time of the professional they're talking to? Of course I'm not everyone and labels can also have detrimental effects, but I feel like this is a nuanced enough issue for it to be something that professionals should talk to their patients about (and by that I don't mean waiting for them to ask, because I get the feeling that I would be met with defensiveness).
    Sorry, I didn't see your response. I don't think anyone is saying completely throw labels out of the window. Yes, for forms and applications you may need diagnoses, and that is fair enough. And I do understand that a label can help give people some understanding about what is going on with them.

    I'm just wondering what advantages you see to being recognised as mentally ill? A lot of people receive treatment without having to be fully diagnosed, and surely being able to receive the right help but without the burden or stigma of a label is a positive thing? However, I do understand that for some people, a label does help them make sense of their situation and even helps create a sense of self. Sounds like you feel that mental illness is part of you, and without someone saying that, you feel like a fraud, or that you have made it up?

    I think we have focused on depression and anxiety here, which, to be honest, are more "accepted" than other illnesses. Severe mental illness diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder contain much more stigma even amongst medical professionals.
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    (Original post by bullettheory)
    Sorry, I didn't see your response. I don't think anyone is saying completely throw labels out of the window. Yes, for forms and applications you may need diagnoses, and that is fair enough. And I do understand that a label can help give people some understanding about what is going on with them.

    I'm just wondering what advantages you see to being recognised as mentally ill? A lot of people receive treatment without having to be fully diagnosed, and surely being able to receive the right help but without the burden or stigma of a label is a positive thing? However, I do understand that for some people, a label does help them make sense of their situation and even helps create a sense of self. Sounds like you feel that mental illness is part of you, and without someone saying that, you feel like a fraud, or that you have made it up?

    I think we have focused on depression and anxiety here, which, to be honest, are more "accepted" than other illnesses. Severe mental illness diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder contain much more stigma even amongst medical professionals.
    Advantages of being recognised as mentally ill are basically having a reason for the way I am? Because if you say 'I dropped out of college because of mental health issues' that's recognised as more legitimate than 'I dropped out of college because I am useless' or even 'I dropped out of college because I was miserable and unmotivated and didn't eat enough'.

    And yeah, mental illness is part of my identity. I don't think that symptoms should have to be labelled with a diagnosis to be recognised as significant and disabling, but unfortunately that's how people tend to think about things? 'Eating problems' carries far less weight than 'anorexia nervosa'.

    Yeah it's true that schizophrenia and bipolar are more stigmatised, and for that reason I think that probably people diagnosed with such disorders are more likely to be more critical of the medical model (sorry, that's oddly phrased), although I wouldn't say that depression and anxiety are necessarily not 'severe' while bipolar and schizophrenia are (it works as a generalisation though I guess, particularly with schizophrenia I think). I have anorexia on my record as well as 'depressed mood' which I think carries more stigma than depression, but less than schizophrenia (and probably bipolar too). I'm being assessed for autism which is also more stigmatised than depression or anxiety I'd say (and not a mental illness, but it's relevant to this convo I think), but to me having a diagnosis seems better than not. I've had it said to me before that a diagnosis would be stigmatising and I was basically discouraged from pursuing one for that reason? But to me having a load of impairments with no official explanation feels a lot more stigmatising than having an autism diagnosis that I can choose who I disclose to? I don't know if that makes sense? Obviously if you are sectioned under the Mental Health Act you lose choice, but I'm not at risk of that anymore. When I've talked about suicide with med professionals the response I've basically got is 'you do you'. In hospital I was threatened with a section and I definitely lacked choice about how I was labelled and I have negative feelings about that I guess, but at the same time, I literally would not eat anything so it was probably for my own good that I was fed through a tube against my will.
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    Btw I have experienced loads of mental health stigma and I rarely disclose to people in real life that I suffer from mental health issues, even though I am aware that depression is a relatively unstigmatised diagnosis. But I feel like eradicating stigma is a better project than not giving people diagnoses? Not using labels in a way feels like giving into the stigma. However if your issue is the construct of mental illness and different mental disorders in the first place, that's different. I do have issues with how mental illness categories are constructed and with psychiatry in general. My feelings are pretty complicated and hard to articulate.
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    Didn't read all of the comments because they got quite long, but low mood does not equal depression. Usually 'low mood' will be used to describe a more temporary, often less severe state of what many would class as 'depression'. Depression would be used to describe someone whose symptoms are more debilitating for their every day life. Some examples:
    Low mood vs depression
    tiredness vs inability to get out of bed, sleeping for 16 hrs and missing work
    sadness lasting a couple of days vs sadness lasting weeks, patient may feel life has little worth
    frustration vs hopelessness
    appearing sad to others vs more serious behavioural changes, may affect relationships/interactions

    Clearly thoughts of suicide and feeling so low you are unable to go about your ordinary daily business would constitute depression rather than low mood. Perhaps these aren't the best examples and for the list above, may be a little on the more extreme end. As someone pointed out above, to the patient the terms don't mean much and treatment would be tailored to the individual's needs rather than the label they are given.

    I'm a medical student, hope this helped.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Advantages of being recognised as mentally ill are basically having a reason for the way I am? Because if you say 'I dropped out of college because of mental health issues' that's recognised as more legitimate than 'I dropped out of college because I am useless' or even 'I dropped out of college because I was miserable and unmotivated and didn't eat enough'.

    And yeah, mental illness is part of my identity. I don't think that symptoms should have to be labelled with a diagnosis to be recognised as significant and disabling, but unfortunately that's how people tend to think about things? 'Eating problems' carries far less weight than 'anorexia nervosa'.

    Yeah it's true that schizophrenia and bipolar are more stigmatised, and for that reason I think that probably people diagnosed with such disorders are more likely to be more critical of the medical model (sorry, that's oddly phrased), although I wouldn't say that depression and anxiety are necessarily not 'severe' while bipolar and schizophrenia are (it works as a generalisation though I guess, particularly with schizophrenia I think). I have anorexia on my record as well as 'depressed mood' which I think carries more stigma than depression, but less than schizophrenia (and probably bipolar too). I'm being assessed for autism which is also more stigmatised than depression or anxiety I'd say (and not a mental illness, but it's relevant to this convo I think), but to me having a diagnosis seems better than not. I've had it said to me before that a diagnosis would be stigmatising and I was basically discouraged from pursuing one for that reason? But to me having a load of impairments with no official explanation feels a lot more stigmatising than having an autism diagnosis that I can choose who I disclose to? I don't know if that makes sense? Obviously if you are sectioned under the Mental Health Act you lose choice, but I'm not at risk of that anymore. When I've talked about suicide with med professionals the response I've basically got is 'you do you'. In hospital I was threatened with a section and I definitely lacked choice about how I was labelled and I have negative feelings about that I guess, but at the same time, I literally would not eat anything so it was probably for my own good that I was fed through a tube against my will.
    My experience may be slightly different. Mental illness may have given me a reason for why things happened, but it has never made it easier for me. It depends on who you ask - in my experience, some people take "I was miserable, therefore I dropped out" better than "I had a episode of mental illness, so I had to leave" - but I guess it's all down to individual experience.

    I think just going back to the original question - about why did that dr say low mood when he was prescribing anti depressants. He may not have thought that your friend had less severe problems at all, you have made an assumption that he did. I do agree with your statement that anorexia has more "weight" than eating problems though.

    I think across the board of mental illnesses there is actually a growing resistance to the medical model (not just bipolar/schizophrenia) - there are reports/studies that have found this. When I said "severe mental illness" - I was referring to the reference to psychotic disorders (often severe mental illness refers exclusively to these - although it depends on who you ask). What you've said makes sense - personally, that is not my view, but it is a personal thing. Even when detained under the Mental Health Act, I think professionals don't use labels more than when you are not detained. That's my experience anyway. On the form for a section 2/3/4/5 etc. they may include the diagnosis, but I've known people go through a whole admission when they are detained without even getting a diagnosis.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Btw I have experienced loads of mental health stigma and I rarely disclose to people in real life that I suffer from mental health issues, even though I am aware that depression is a relatively unstigmatised diagnosis. But I feel like eradicating stigma is a better project than not giving people diagnoses? Not using labels in a way feels like giving into the stigma. However if your issue is the construct of mental illness and different mental disorders in the first place, that's different. I do have issues with how mental illness categories are constructed and with psychiatry in general. My feelings are pretty complicated and hard to articulate.
    I do agree with you. The way psychiatric diagnoses are constructed, is, in my opinion, heavily flawed.
 
 
 
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