Depression Diagnosis

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Thu, 06/24/2010

Accurate diagnosis, which requires a complete physical and psychological evaluation to determine whether the person may have a depressive illness, and if so, what type.

Who can help, if depression?

Many health care providers may help in diagnose depression: family physicians, or other primary-care providers, licensed mental-health therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers.

No diagnosing blood test for depression

We are accustomed to doctors using specialized blood tests or other expensive laboratory tests to help them make a conclusive diagnosis. However, most laboratory tests are not very helpful when it comes to diagnosing depression. In fact, talking with the patient may be the most important diagnostic tool the doctor has for diagnosing depression.

Diagnosing depression

For effective diagnosis of depression, the doctor may ask about specific signs and symptoms of depression. While a physical examination will reveal a patient's overall state of health, by talking with a patient, a doctor can learn about other things that are relevant to making a depression diagnosis. A patient, for example, can report on such things as daily moods, behaviors, and lifestyle habits.

Good psychological diagnostic evaluation

  • A complete history of your symptoms, i.e.,
  • o    when they started,
  • o    how long they have lasted,
  • o    how severe they are,
  • o    whether you've had them before and if so,
  • o    Whether you get treatment and what treatment, you are receiving. In addition, which treatment is effective?
  • Psychologist should ask about alcohol and drug use,
  • If have had thoughts about death or suicide.
  • Whether other family members have had depression and if treated, what treatments they may have received and, which were effective.

Doctor will ask series of questions about the way you feel, including whether have any symptoms of depression such as the one in the above discussion.

After reviewing the information including the signs and symptoms, patient history, family history, and physician exam, doctor may ask for some lab tests to rule out other serious diseases. For example, hypothyroidism could cause symptoms of depression. Doctor may ask you to list all drugs you are taking and may ask for a urine specimen.