Unlike most conditions, you can’t just walk into a laboratory and ask for a test that can diagnose. Luckily, certain tests can help your doctor rule depression out.
Before depression differential diagnosis is made, the health practitioner could ask to perform blood work to rule out other conditions that also contribute to mood changes. Some health conditions and medications, like thyroid disorder, viral infections, or significant hormonal changes, could cause symptoms similar to depression.
When all the necessary tests are made, and the doctor finds no other cause for your mood changes and depression symptoms, he will then refer you to a licensed psychiatrist or mental health expert for further evaluation.
Mental health experts look for specific symptoms to determine whether you’re depressed. They will ask in-depth questions about your behavior, mood, and day-to-day activities. They may also ask about your family’s psychological history. To help gauge your level of depression, they may also ask you to fill out a complete depression-rating questionnaire.
Because clinical depression can manifest in many different ways, a depression diagnosis can be challenging to make. The symptoms tend to vary in clinically depressed individuals. Some may become irritable or agitated, while others seem to withdraw into a state of apathy.
Behavioral or observable symptoms of clinical depression may also be minimal even when the person is experiencing profound inner turmoil. For some, depression could be an all-encompassing disorder that affects their feelings, body, behaviors, and thoughts in varying ways.
How Depression Symptoms Can Lead to a Depression Diagnosis
The symptoms of depression include:
· Insomnia or excessive sleeping
· Depressed or sad mood almost daily or better part of the day
· Changes in weight, whether gain or loss within a month
· Loss of interest and enjoyment in things you once used to enjoy
· Sense of being rundown or physical restlessness noticeable to others
· Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness or excessive guilt every day
· Loss of energy or fatigue almost daily
· Recurring suicidal thoughts, or suicide attempts
· Problems making decisions or concentrating every day
Before you are diagnosed with major depression, you should have at least five of these symptoms, with at least some nearly every day for about two weeks.
Because symptoms of depression can last for weeks, months, or even years, it can affect your personality as well as interfere with your work habits and social relationships, which makes it hard for people around you to empathize with you.
In severe cases, depressed people may even be unable to maintain their hygiene, eat, or also get out of bed. Depression episodes could be chronic, longstanding, recurrent, or occur once in a lifetime.
Complete Depression-Rating Questionnaire Technique
Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)
This questionnaire is made up of 21 self-reported depression questions meant to help doctors and mental health professionals assess your symptoms, mood, and behaviors before they diagnose you with depression. For every answer, a score of 0-3 is given to indicate the severity of your symptoms.
Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS)
The HDRS questionnaire is designed to help doctors and healthcare professionals to determine the severity of depression in those who have been diagnosed already. It also consists of 21 questions relating to particular symptoms or signs of depression.
In the questionnaire, multiple-choice answers are given a 0-4 score. The higher the total scores, the more severe the depression.
Zung Self-Rating Scale for Depression
This is a screening tool used to help depressed people assess their level of depression. It has 20 questions with a score range of 20-80. Those who are depressed score between 50-69. If the score goes beyond that, this indicates severe depression.
Once the mental health expert compiles all the information for the questionnaires and symptoms assessment, a diagnosis is made. The doctor will then diagnose the type of depression you have and determine the most effective treatment for the patient.