SIGECAPS screening tool
SIGECAPS is a mnemonic used to diagnose symptoms of depression. But, you probably didn't know that you can use SIGECAPS to help your depression. And your doctor probably doesn't know that either.
Not because your doctor does not want to help you, but rather because she or he is conditioned to treat depression with antidepressants. In some cases, antidepressants can save the life of someone in severe distress.
But in other cases, as when you have treatment-resistant depression, antidepressants can trigger catastrophic mental and physical side effects, including suicidal ideation, and worse, suicide itself. So says the warning labels for antidepressants.
Therefore, if you can find a roadmap to help depression without resorting to antidepressants, why not try it out? And even if you are already on antidepressants, you might be able to wean yourself off if they are not helping.
The purpose of this article is to give you a path to help depression based on the same tool used to diagnose depression – SIGECAPS. First, though, here is a brief explanation of SIGECAPS.
What does SIGECAPS stand for?
Each letter of SIGECAPS represents one of the eight diagnostic criteria described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
S stands for sleep
- Are you sleeping more in the day or less at night?
- Excessive daytime sleep or insufficient nighttime sleep are both indicators of depression.
I is for a loss of interest in daily activities
- Have you experienced a loss of interest in activities that you once found enjoyable?
- A loss of interest is a sign of depression.
G stands for guilt
- Do you have; low self-esteem, feel guilty, or have a sense of worthlessness?
- Feelings of guilt fuels depression.
E stands for energy
- Do you feel fatigued, a lack of energy, or “burnt out”?
- Burnt out is a common symptom of depression.
C for Concentration
- Do you have difficulty concentrating?
- Reduced concentration is a hallmark of depression.
A is for Appetite
- Have you lost your appetite, enjoyment in food, or are you bingeing?
- Both are classic signs of depression.
P stands for Psychomotor Agitation or Retardation
- Do you feel so anxious you cannot sit still? Or, are you more sluggish and very slow in your movements?
- Increased agitation or much slower movements are signs of depression.
S Stands for Suicidal Ideation
- Are you preoccupied with thoughts of death or a plan to commit suicide?
- Suicidal ideation is the most obvious sign of depression and requires immediate treatment.
How did SIGECAPS become the mnemonic for depression questions?
The answer is that physicians once used the abbreviation “sig” to mean directions on prescriptions. And “Energy capsules” or “E” caps was the original name for antidepressants (University of Nebraska Medical Center).
This is how SIGECAPS and depression became linked together.
Mental health professionals still use SIGECAPS (also written as SIG-E-CAPS, and SIG E CAPS) as a tool to diagnose depression. During an evaluation for mood disorders like major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders, the SIGECAPS is a practical screening test.
A doctor can help determine if the answers to SIGECAPS questions are clinically significant or not.
SIGECAPS is just one screening tool for psychiatric disorders.
Other screening tools for depression are:
- the self-scoring Beck Depression Inventory and the online PHQ-9 Questionnaire.
- as well as “DIGFAST” for bipolar disorders
What is clinical depression?
Use SIGECAPS to help depression
You can use SIGECAPS as a roadmap to help your depression naturally, even without drugs or medications.
- What can you do when antidepressants are not helping?
- Even worse, what if you are suffering from the adverse side effects of antidepressants? Such as:
- Or you are using drugs for years and are still depressed.
Use the SIGECAPS acronym to help your depressed mood. I know, because I experienced all of those antidepressant side effects, and needed to find new solutions.
SIGECAPS as a depression solution helped me. I hope SIGECAPS will you or someone you care about as well.
As always, consult with your primary care doctor.
8 Sigecaps Depression Solutions That Your Doctor Didn't Tell You
Step 1. S stands for sleep
Your first new habit of fighting depression is to improve your sleep.
A study found that 87 percent of depression patients who resolved their insomnia had significant improvements to their mental state, with symptoms disappearing after eight weeks, whether the person took an antidepressant or a placebo pill.
The study's lead author told the New York Times:¹ “The way this story is unfolding, I think we need to start augmenting standard depression treatment with therapy focused on insomnia.”
- Make a sleep schedule for yourself.
- Commit to getting to sleep around 10 or 11 in the evening.
- Do not watch TV in bed or surf the web.
- Make your room as dark as possible.
- When you lie down, pay attention to the sound of your breath.
- Inhale and exhale.
- Think good thoughts, everything you are grateful for, and imagine a better future in all areas.
- Shoot to get a sleep of seven to eight hours.
- Continue to work on improving your sleep, it is that important.
Watch this video on the importance of sleep and how it affects your brain:
Step 2. I is for Interest
Getting interested in something productive is the second step to fighting depression. Take up a new or old interest, something that gets you out of your house and out of your head.
A new interest does not mean trying all the flavors of Ben & Jerry vanilla based ice creams. Junk food is not entertainment and will never help you relieve depression. More junk food means more misery, as you watch the scale numbers climb.
It also means to invest in yourself. The new interest to take is in you, yourself.
Stop investing in the stocks of Nabisco and Doritos. What are you getting out of the processed food horror show, besides fatter? And the more fat you get, the more depressed you will be.
Start investing in yourself.
A fuel oriented nutrition plan qualifies as a new interest. At least you will be feeding your body the best nutrition possible. All these high-quality nutrients will not only flood your body but your brain as well.
Find a new interest, such as;
Step 3. G represents guilt
Non-stop guilt is a destructive force. Guilt is not an action. When you are guilty, you are not helping anyone, including yourself.
Yes, guilt is an excellent tool to prevent bad behavior.
But, if you already committed the bad behavior, the guilt now is not going to rectify what you did. To remedy what you did, you need to have sincere remorse and vow never to do that again. If you need to apologize to someone, then do it. When restitution of money is necessary, do it.
If they do not accept your apology or forgive you, the matter is out of your hands.
Excessive guilt eats up your insides. There is no end in sight when you lock yourself in the prison of guilt. Let yourself out of jail. Or have another friend, family member, or mentor tell you that they approve of you.
Of course, you must forgive, love, and approve of yourself first.
- I release the need to blame anyone, including myself. We are all doing the best we can with the understanding, knowledge, and awareness we have.
- Even though I struggle with guilt, I choose to love and accept myself anyway.
- I am OK, and it is safe for me to forgive myself.
- Today, I choose to accept myself as I am, and I decide to compliment myself and give myself credit for the good things I do.
- I am learning and improving every day.
- Today, I am patient with myself.
- I love and approve of myself.
- The best path is to release any self-blame or guilt, I don't need those feelings anymore and let them go.
- I release and let go of all self-criticism.
- I forgive myself for being so hard on myself.
- You deserve the best always.
- Abundance and joy is my right. I am good enough, always been good enough, and I do my best.
- I completely love and approve of myself as I am.
Source Credit: Based on the teachings of Louise Hay
Step 4. E Stands for Energy
Antidepressants are the last thing that will help with energy. The best course of action to increase your strength is to improve your nutrition. Feed yourself high-quality food, the best of the best.
Make sure that you have vegetables with most meals, at least twice a day, if not more.
Go for complex carbohydrates like
- brown rice,
- sweet potato,
- buckwheat aka kasha
- sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel muffins
- and old fashioned oatmeal instead of higher processed foods like wheat bread.
Before using drugs that have known side effects, identify potential food sensitivities. Wheat, eggs, peanuts, and dairy can affect some individuals.
Wheat consumption can cause symptoms of depression in some individuals. First, remove all the toxic foods and habits from your life. And only then think of taking medications if you are still suffering from depression.
You need to lay off the junk food.
An excellent diet is going to help increase your energy more than antidepressants. Avoiding junk foods can boost your energy levels more than any antidepressant.
Obesity is no help for any person who wants to increase their energy levels. If you need to lose weight, use this easy plan to lose 20 pounds in 3 months without suffering.
A Simple Meal Plan for Energy
- Drink a tall glass of water with a real lemon wedge upon waking up.
- Have half a grapefruit before or with breakfast.
- Or a bowl of oatmeal, hot or cold, with water, 1% organic milk or cashew milk.
- Add berries and peanut butter (if you like) to the oatmeal.
- Boil a couple of eggs or sautee a vegetable omelet.
- For lunch, have some brown rice, black beans, veggies, and turkey (optional).
- Have a fruit between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner if you are hungry.
- For dinner, sweet potato, salmon, and a vegetable, like bok choy, cauliflower, or broccoli.
- If you are still hungry after all this food, have an apple.
- Establish regular meal times to train your body when to expect fuel every day. This will prevent body distress that can lead to depression.
A Strength Training Plan to Fight Depression
- Walk every day for 30 minutes.
- Start a beginner deadlift workout routine for strength and fitness on Monday.
- Do a pushup or bench press workout on Wednesday.
- And a beginner squat workout routine on Friday.
- Rest on Tuesday, Thursday, and the weekend.
Step 5. C is for Concentration
C stands for Concentration and Cardio
What can you do to improve your concentration?
- Focus on what it is that you must get done.
- Limit distractions like radio or tv.
- Work in a quiet atmosphere.
- Break up your task into manageable pieces.
- Establish a routine and stick to your calendar.
- Start a cardio program to burn your fat and depression.
Step 6. A for Appetite
Follow the simple meal and workout plan above. This can help regulate your appetite. Do not punish your body for the anxieties of your mind. Think of food as fuel for your body and eat when you are hungry.
Stop snacking on junk food and focus on high-quality food.
The strength training plan will help to keep you moving. Building muscle and exercise is going to help your appetite.
Proper Nutrition to Prevent Agitation and Sulking
How important is good nutrition for depression? Let's examine the function of antidepressants.
- Antidepressants increase serotonin levels.
- How? They block specific receptors from absorbing too much serotonin.
- This increases the availability of serotonin to your brain cells.
As a result, antidepressants are called SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Because antidepressants prevent receptors from absorbing too much serotonin. Common SSRIs include:
Antidepressants are not the only way to increase serotonin in your body. Another way of getting more serotonin into your system is through food. Particularly food that contains tryptophan. For your body to manufacture serotonin, it needs a sufficient supply of the natural amino acid, tryptophan.
Tryptophan helps normalize levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters. This can help with both depression and increased aggression or slowness of movement.²
Foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan³:
- Eggs. The protein in eggs can significantly boost your blood plasma levels of tryptophan, according to recent research.
- Cheese. Cheese is another excellent source of tryptophan.
- Salmon. Have you ever noticed being in a better mood after good quality salmon? Now you know why.
- Nuts and Seeds.
- Traditional milk products, yogurt, and soy milk
- Calf's liver, chicken breast, turkey breast
- Halibut, cod, tuna, salmon
- Cheddar processed cheese, cottage cheese, tofu, gruyere cheese
- Apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, avocados, pineapple, peaches
- Spinach, mustard greens, asparagus, eggplant, winter squash, and green peas
- Kelp, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, and cabbage
- Cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers, potatoes
- Walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts, almonds
- Ground flax, sesame, pumpkin, fenugreek, sunflower seeds (roasted)
- Mung bean, soybeans, kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeasBrown
- rice, red rice, barley, corn, oats
Step 7. P Stands for Psychomotor
Are you feeling more anxious and cannot sit still? Or, are you more sluggish and very slow in your movements? Increased agitation or much slower movements are signs of depression.
Step 8. S Stands for Suicidal Ideation
The FDA requires that antidepressants carry a warning label that their use might lead to suicidal ideation:
You have as good a chance to prevent suicidal ideation with SIGECAPS as you do with antidepressants. And the only side effect is getting leaner and stronger.
But, once you are at the stage of suicidal ideation, you need immediate help. Before calling the suicide hotline, there is one more suggestion, strength training.
Because improving the fitness of your body is going to help improve the fitness of your mind. Instead of meds, which can only slow your movements, focus on getting leaner and stronger.
Weight training for depression. How weightlifting can change your life.
Start a strength training program which includes:
- Deadlifts – read how the deadlift saved my life
- Bench Press
- The 3×5 workout is an excellent plan to build mind and body strength to crush depression
- Walking, running, biking, swimming, elliptical
- And last but not least – Eat Real Food