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Depression Diagnosis

Depression Diagnosis

What you need to know about
Depression Diagnosis

Previously, all mood disorders were grouped together. A doctor will now differentiate between the specific disease or subtype of depression that a patient has. A doctor will, for example, decide whether a patient has major depression, chronic depression with dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bipolar disorder, or another type of clinical depression.

It can be difficult to approach your doctor if you believe you are depressed. You may feel humiliated or alone. But you’re not as isolated as you may believe. In their lifetime, one out of every five persons will suffer from a mental disease.

Furthermore, depression seldom goes away on its own and may even worsen if not treated. As a result, it’s critical to seek help as soon as you discover symptoms. A smart place to start is with your primary care physician. They’ll be able to help you sort through your symptoms and may send you to a mental health professional who may help you further, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose Depression?

We’ve grown accustomed to doctors employing specialised blood tests or other complicated laboratory tests to aid in their diagnosis. However, when it comes to identifying depression, most blood tests aren’t very helpful. In reality, the doctor’s most essential diagnostic tool may be conversing with the patient. Doctors should evaluate everyone for depression on a regular basis, according to the recommendation. This screening could happen during a chronic illness visit, an annual wellness appointment, or a pregnancy or postpartum visit.

The doctor has to hear about particular depression symptoms in order to appropriately diagnose and treat depression. To test for depression, they may ask a series of typical questions. While a physical examination will disclose a patient’s overall health, a doctor can learn about additional factors that are crucial to making a depression diagnosis by speaking with the patient. For example, a patient can report on their daily moods, behaviours, and lifestyle habits.

Because clinical depression can manifest itself in so many different ways, diagnosing it can be difficult. Some seriously depressed persons, for example, appear to withdraw into apathy. Others may feel agitated or irritable. Sleep and eating habits can be exaggerated. Clinical depression can make a person sleep or eat excessively, or virtually completely stop doing these things.

Observable or behavioural symptoms of clinical depression may be mild at times, despite deep inner turmoil. Depression is a broad condition that affects a person’s physiology, feelings, beliefs, and behaviours in a variety of ways.

What Does a Doctor Look for When Diagnosing Depression?

With a physical examination, a personal interview, and lab tests, a doctor can rule out other diseases that could cause depression. The doctor will also perform a full diagnostic evaluation, including a discussion of any family history of depression or mental illness.

Your doctor will assess your symptoms, including how long you’ve had them when they began, and how you’ve dealt with them. They’ll inquire about your mood, as well as whether you have any depressive symptoms such as:

  • Sadness or depression for much of the day, if not all of it.
  • Loss of pleasure in previously rewarding activities.
  • Weight gain or loss (gain or loss of more than 5 % of weight within a month) or your appetite.
  • Almost every day, I suffer from insomnia or excessive sleep.
  • Others may notice your physical restlessness or a sensation of exhaustion.
  • Almost every day, you will experience fatigue or a decrease in energy.
  • Almost every day, I have feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or extreme guilt.
  • Almost every day, I have difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
  • Suicide plans, attempts, or recurring thoughts of death or suicide.

How Can Depression Symptoms Lead to a Depression Diagnosis?

To be diagnosed with serious depression, you must experience at least five of the symptoms listed above on a daily basis for at least two weeks.

Symptoms of depression can continue for weeks, months, or even years. They can alter your personality and disrupt social interactions and job habits, making it more difficult for others to empathise with you. Some symptoms are so incapacitating that they severely limit your ability to function. People with depression may be unable to eat, maintain their hygiene, or even get out of bed in the most severe cases.

Episodes can be one-time occurrences, or they can be repeated, chronic, or long-term. They appear to endure an eternity in certain circumstances. Life crises may appear to be the source of symptoms. They may appear to happen at random at other times.

Clinical depression is frequently associated with other medical conditions such as heart disease or cancer, and it exacerbates the prognosis for these conditions.

Do You Have Physical Symptoms of Depression?

Many people who are depressed go to their doctor first for physical problems. You may have noticed:

These symptoms and indicators may appear before or after the mental health symptoms of depression, or they may appear simultaneously. Your doctor can assist you in determining the cause of your symptoms.

Which lab tests can aid in the diagnosis of depression?

Your doctor may order lab tests after evaluating the information from your session, including the signs and symptoms, patient history, family history, and physical exam, to rule out a medical condition that could be causing your symptoms. Depression-like symptoms can be caused by infections, drugs, hormone or vitamin deficits, and diseases. Your doctor will want to go through all of your medications, as well as any alcohol or recreational substances you’re using.

How can I assist the doctor in making an accurate diagnosis?

Write down your concerns about depression and any particular symptoms of depression you may be experiencing before your consultation. Before consulting with your doctor, it’s also a good idea to gather detailed family history from relatives. This information can assist the doctor in making an accurate diagnosis and ensuring that treatment is effective. Consider and write down the following items before your visit:

  • Our concerns about mental and physical health
  •  Observed signs and symptoms
  •  Strange habits you’ve observed
  •  Previous illnesses
  •  Depression runs in your family.
  •  Medications you’re now taking and have taken in the past, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications
  •  Side effects of medications you are taking or have taken that are unusual
  •  You’re taking natural dietary supplements.
  •  Your habits of living (exercise, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use)
  •  Your sleeping patterns
  •  Stress factors in your life (marriage, work, social)
  •  You may have questions about depression and depression drugs.

When Should I Seek Medical Assistance?

Recognizing that someone has depression is the most difficult step in diagnosing and treating it. Unfortunately, over half of those who suffer from depression are never recognised or treated. And failing to get therapy can be fatal: more than 10% of people who suffer from depression commit suicide.

  • When depression is producing problems in your life, such as relationship troubles, career issues, or family conflicts, and there isn’t an obvious solution, you should seek help to avoid things getting worse, especially if these symptoms linger for a long time.
  • Seek help immediately if you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts or feelings.