A Quick Guide To The SIGECAPS Depression Screening Tool

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If you or someone you know has been feeling down lately, the SIGECAPS screening tool can help determine if it may be depression.

25-30% of seniors and 11.5% of youth suffer from depression. Overall, nearly 5% of Americans struggle with depressive feelings regularly. The good news is many people are seeking help. In 2021, over 68% of depressed adults over 50 got treatment. Still, too many youth, about 6%, don’t receive any care for major depression.

SIGECAPS stands for Sleep, Interest, Guilt, Energy, Concentration, Appetite, Psychomotor, and Suicidal thoughts. If you’re experiencing changes in several of these areas for more than a couple of weeks, you may have depression.

What is Depression?

Depression isn’t the same as feeling sad or upset for a short period. When you’re depressed, these feelings last a long time and interfere with your everyday life. It can affect your entire sense of self, including how you feel, think, and behave.

Some common signs of depression include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty, or irritable most of the time.
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities you used to enjoy.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep. Sleeping too much or too little, eating too much or too little.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt.
  • Suicidal ideation or self-harm

Depression can be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, biology, and environment. Traumatic life events such as losing a loved one, financial troubles, or a dysfunctional family environment may trigger depression in some people. However, depression can also occur without any obvious life events.

Take a free depression assessment here.

Depression isn't the same as feeling sad or upset for a short period. When you're depressed, these feelings last a long time and interfere with your everyday life.

Types of Depression

  • Major Depression – Major depression, also called major depressive disorder, can be caused by genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Treatment options include medication, therapy, or a combination of the two.
  • Perinatal or Postpartum Depression – This occurs during pregnancy or after giving birth. New mothers experience intense sadness, anxiety, and mood changes that interfere with daily life. Support groups and therapy can help.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – This severe form of premenstrual syndrome causes extreme mood shifts, irritability, and sadness during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, just before your period. Lifestyle changes and medication may provide relief.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – For some, depression symptoms appear during the fall or winter and subside in the spring. SAD is linked to a lack of natural sunlight. Light therapy, medication, and counseling are effective treatments.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – Previously known as dysthymia, this is a chronic, long-term form of depression. Symptoms are less severe but last for years. A combination of medication and talk therapy works best for managing persistent depressive disorder.
Major depression, also called major New mothers experience intense sadness, anxiety, and mood changes that interfere with daily life.biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

What is SIGECAPS?

The SIGECAPS screening tool is a simple but effective way to determine if you may be experiencing symptoms of depression. It evaluates six areas that can be impacted by depression:

  • S – Sleep: Are you sleeping too much or too little? Changes in sleep patterns can indicate depression.
  • I – Interest: Have you lost interest in activities or hobbies you used to enjoy? Feeling unmotivated or apathetic can be a sign of depression.
  • G – Guilt: Do you feel excessive guilt or worthless? Depression often causes negative and unrealistic thoughts about yourself.
  • E – Energy: Do you feel fatigued or lack energy? Depression can sap your motivation and vitality.
  • C – Concentration: Is your concentration impaired, or are you indecisive? Trouble focusing or making decisions may indicate depression.
  • A – Appetite: Have you experienced changes in your appetite or weight? Either overeating or loss of appetite can be a symptom of depression.
  • P – Psychomotor: Do you feel agitated or slowed down? Changes in movement or speech can also point to depression.
  • S – Suicidal thoughts: Are you having thoughts of death or suicide? This is a medical emergency, and you should seek help right away.

By evaluating these areas, SIGECAPS can determine if you may be experiencing several signs of clinical depression. The more areas you check off, the more likely you may be depressed. Be sure to consult your doctor if you have concerns about your mental health.

Read more: Why Is Life So Hard: Balancing Mental Health & Sobriety

Is SIGECAPS Accurate?

SIGECAPS is considered an accurate screening tool for depression. Studies show it correctly identifies about 80-90% of people with depression. This means if 100 people with depression took the SIGECAPS, 80-90 would score in the depressed range. Likewise, if 100 people without depression took the test, 80-90 would score in the normal range.

The high accuracy of SIGECAPS comes from the fact that it focuses on symptoms that are hallmarks of a major depressive episode, like changes in sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, and feelings of self-worth. The more symptoms someone endorses, the more likely they are to be experiencing depression.

Of course, no questionnaire is 100% accurate, so SIGECAPS may misclassify or miss some cases of depression. But as a quick initial screening tool, its accuracy is quite good. SIGECAPS works best when people can thoughtfully and honestly reflect on their symptoms over the last two weeks.

SIGECAPS is considered an accurate screening tool for depression.

Cons of SIGECAPS

While the SIGECAPS screening tool can be helpful, it does have some limitations to be aware of.

  • Subjectivity: The assessment relies on self-reported symptoms, which can be subjective and open to interpretation. Some people may overreport or underreport symptoms, skewing the results.
  • Limited focus: SIGECAPS primarily focuses on mood symptoms. It does not screen for other issues that can cause or contribute to depression, like substance abuse, trauma, medical conditions, or relationship problems.
  • Changing criteria: The criteria for diagnosing depression are evolving. SIGECAPS was developed based on an older version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The latest edition, DSM-5, changed the symptoms and thresholds for depression.
  • Oversimplification: While useful as an initial screening, SIGECAPS oversimplifies the complexity of depression. It cannot determine the severity, duration, or specific subtype of depression.
Depression is a serious medical condition that often requires treatment to overcome.

Depression Treatment In Los Angeles

Depression is a serious medical condition that often requires treatment to overcome. Launch Centers in Los Angeles, California, offers discreet, compassionate counseling and therapy for people with depression, sadness, and other mood disorders. Their licensed therapists can help determine the underlying causes of your symptoms and recommend an effective treatment plan.

Your mental health and happiness are worth the investment. Contact Launch Centers today for a free consultation and start on the path to recovery and well-being.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

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Jess Beck, LCSW

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Eric Chaghouri, MD

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