Diagnosis of Depression
Initial assessment—Your doctor will ask about your symptoms:
- When the symptoms started
- What the triggering events are
- How severe the symptoms are
- How symptoms affect your daily activities
- Whether you also have chronic pain
- Whether you have had these symptoms before and, if so, whether the symptoms were treated and what treatment was given
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Family members who have or have had depression
- Sleep patterns
- Physical exam—Your doctor will give you a thorough physical exam. Certain medications, as well as some conditions, can cause the same symptoms as depression. Your doctor can rule out these possibilities through a physical exam, interview, and lab tests. The physical exam may include a mental status exam to determine if your speech, thought patterns, or memory have been affected. This may indicate a neurological cause of depression.
- Psychological evaluation—A psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or mental health counselor can give you a psychological exam. You may take a special screening test for depression, such as the Beck Depression Inventory or the Hamilton Rating Scale. These tests have limitations, however, and must be interpreted in the context of your symptoms and personal situation.
- Evaluation for other conditions that may coexist with depression (such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, anxiety disorder, personality disorder)
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-easy-to-read/depression-trifold.pdf. Accessed July 30, 2012.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013 -
- Update Date: 09/30/2013 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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