How can you tell if your depression is a disability?

Where can I find out if I fill the requirements to be considered disabled.

I am not looking for money or anything. The reason I started looking in to this is because I discovered Psychiatric Service Dogs. I don't want someone to pay me so I don't have to work. I feel that if I were able to qualify for one of these dogs that he would be able to help me recover enough to be able to work.

I have fear of social interactions, not when I can't see people, but large groups of people can trigger a panic attack and I have a severe fear of interacting with people, such as interviews, or having to talk to someone on a personal level. The last work interview I had triggered over a week of worsened depression where I was unable to do much more than sit in a dark room shaking in tears.

If things stay the way they are I will be unable to get or maintain a job, make or keep friends, interact with anyone in a meaningful way, or feel like I am worth anything to anyone.

If I had a dog that was trained to help me with my symtoms, who could help calm and sooth me when anxiety strikes, and help me start and feel at ease in social interactions, I would be able to live a better life, feel better about myself, get a job, and have something that could give me support and love when things get bad.

I have a doctors appointment to discuss this, but it's not for a few weeks. Is there anywhere I can get an idea if I would qualify for this? And does anyone know if I would have to accept disability payments?


On meds, seeing a doctor, that's not what I'm asking about

Update 2:

And I have been getting treatment for this off and on for many years and like I said I am currently on 2 antidepressants. If anything things are getting worse

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    This is something to discuss with your doctor. Only he is fully aware of the extent of your impairment and at the same time detached enough to form an unbiased opinion.

    Three quarters of all diagnosed cases of mental illness are not disabling, but one quarter are. Ask him if you are among that one quarter. Ask if in his medical opinion you are substantially limited in your ability to perform major life activities because of your mental illness. Please note that "major life activities" are not the same as "daily life activities."

    Major life activities are things like seeing, hearing, walking, speaking, using one's hands, thinking, learning, etc. and are central to a person's ability to survive.

    Daily life activities are the ordinary things one does every day or often and pretty much tends to take for granted, like going to the grocery store or out to eat.

    In order to qualify for a service dog from a program, you are going to need a letter of support from your doctor anyway, so he's definitely the place to start.

    The definition of "disability" is different under the ADA than it is under Social Security. It is possible for a person to qualify under the ADA and not under SS or vice versa. You are not required to apply for SS in order to be considered disabled under the ADA. They are two distinctly different sets of laws.

    You should also discuss with your doctor an additional option, an emotional support animal. Under the ADA, "[a]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals." So unless you have some specific tasks you need a dog to do for you, even if you qualify as disabled, you still wouldn't qualify for a service dog.

    A service dog typically requires 18-24 months of training and the waiting period to get one is typically around 3 years or so. An emotional support animal, however, because it is pet and requires no more than ordinary good pet manners, can be gotten much more quickly. The difference is that an emotional support animal doesn't go any place where pets are not ordinarily permitted. You are, however, permitted to keep an ESA in "no pets" housing. There are details on how that works in the article on emotional support animals I included in the sources section below.

    edited to add:

    I second the recommendation for cognitive behavioral therapy. I've seen it work wonderfully well for many people, and it doesn't hurt to give it a try.

    It is not necessary that you be unable to work in order to qualify as disabled under the ADA. For example, many people who are legally blind, and therefore covered by the ADA, none-the-less hold down full time jobs the same as any one else.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    I don't know many people on disability for anxiety and depression, however, there are many people who have bi polar disorder (which includes periods of depression and anxiety) and I know that they qualify for disability. However, anxiety is a very manageable disorder. I have severe health anxiety, which escalated to the point of me not wanting to leave the house. "Just get over it" is not exactly helpful, but that's what I had to do. I had to go to school, grocery shopping, work, etc. I refused to let giving up even be an option. The only advice I can give you is that if you file and you are denied (almost everyone is denied the first time) then continue appealing it, and it may be necessary to get a disability lawyer.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    To qualify for disability, your depression has to be so profound that it interferes with your ability to work (makes you unable to work) and does not respond to treatment. Have you ever tried therapy or medication for your depression? If not, you aren't going to be considered for disability. You have to have tried and failed at treatment before you can qualify as disabled.

    There is a really great form of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that can really help with depression and anxiety. I understand how disabling panic attacks can be, I have suffered from them since I was 5 years old. Nothing helped - not medication or yoga or deep breathing or anything I tried to do. Then I started CBT and it totally changed my life. It was a lot of hard work and took a lot of time but now I am able to live a fairly normal life without constant panic attacks. My mood has also improved a lot, mostly because I don't feel like a worthless piece of crap anymore because I can go out and do things again.

    I would strongly suggest you ask your doctor to refer you to a good psychologist in your area who does CBT, and start working with them. You can learn how to overcome your panic attacks, general anxiety, and depression and live a normal, happy life. It's a lot of work and it takes some time but it's totally worth it in the end.

    Good luck!

  • 1 decade ago

    I did not see anything about medications. I would start with those.

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