• No one should be alone in this. We can help.
If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.                                                                            If you - or someone you know - are having thoughts about suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are connected to a certified crisis center nearest the caller's location. Services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Advertisement

Main Menu
Sponsored Links
Donate to DF
Latest Forum Topics
No posts were found
Search

Find a Therapist
Powered by Good Therapy
Forum Admin  Forum Admin

Tests Used to Diagnose Depression

Tests Used to Diagnose Depression

If you are planning to see your doctor about depression, here is information about the kinds of tests your doctor might ask for. First, keep in mind that not every test is a "depression test." Some tests aren't used to diagnose clinical depression but rather to rule out other serious medical conditions that may cause similar symptoms.

In most cases, the doctor will do a physical exam and ask for specific lab tests to make sure your depression symptoms aren't related to a condition such as thyroid disease or cancer. If your symptoms are related to another serious illness, treating that illness may also help ease the depression.

Diagnosing Depression and the Physical Exam

Again, the goal with a physical exam is usually to rule out a physical cause for depression. When performing the physical exam, the doctor may focus primarily on the nervous and hormonal systems. The doctor will try to identify any major health concerns that may be contributing to symptoms of clinical depression. For example, hypothyroidism -- caused by an underactive thyroid gland -- is the most common medical condition associated with depressive symptoms. Other hormone disorders associated with depression include hyperthyroidism -- caused by an overactive thyroid -- and Cushing's disease -- a disorder of the adrenal gland.

Many central nervous system illnesses and injuries can also lead to depression. For example, depression might be associated with any of the following conditions:

  • central nervous system tumors
  • head trauma
  • multiple sclerosis
  • stroke
  • syphilis
  • various cancers (pancreas, prostate, breast)

Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone, which people take for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or asthma, are also associated with depression. Other drugs, including illegal steroids and amphetamines and over-the-counter appetite suppressants, may cause depression on withdrawal.

Diagnosing Depression and Lab Tests

Your doctor can usually tell if you have depression by asking you specific questions and doing a physical exam. Your doctor may, however, ask for lab tests to rule out other diagnoses. Your doctor will likely do blood tests to check for medical conditions that may cause depressive symptoms. He or she will use the blood tests to check for such things as anemia, and thyroid, hormone, and calcium levels.

Diagnosing Depression and Other Testing Methods

The doctor may include other standard tests as part of the initial physical exam. Among them may be blood tests to check electrolytes, liver function, and kidney function. Because the kidneys and liver are responsible for the elimination of depression medications, impairment to either of these two organs may cause the drugs to accumulate in the body.

Other tests may include:

  • CT scan or MRI of the brain to rule out serious illnesses such as a brain tumor
  • electrocardiogram (ECG), which is used to diagnose some heart problems
  • electroencephalogram (EEG), which uses an apparatus for recording electrical activity of the brain

    Depression Screening Tests

    After discussing your mood and the way it affects your life, your doctor may also ask you questions that are used specifically to screen for depression. It's important to keep in mind that the inventories and questionnaires the doctor may use are just one part of the medical process of diagnosing depression. These tests, however, can sometimes give your doctor better insight into your mood. He or she can use them to make a diagnosis with more certainty.

    One example of a screening test is a two-part questionnaire that has been shown to be highly reliable in identifying the likelihood of depression. When you take this test, you will be asked to answer two questions:

  • During the past month, have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
  • During the past month, have you been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?

Your answer to the two questions will determine what the doctor does next. The doctor may ask you additional questions to help confirm a diagnosis of depression. Or if your answers indicate you do not have depression, the doctor may review your symptoms again to continue the effort to find the cause. Studies show that these two questions, especially when used with another test as part of the assessment process, are highly effective tools for detecting most cases of depression.

Your doctor may use other depression screening instruments as well. Examples include:

  • Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), -- a 21-question multiple-choice self-report that measures the severity of depression symptoms and feelings
  • Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale -- a short survey that measures the level of depression, ranging from normal to severely depressed
  • Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) -- an instrument that allows patients to evaluate their feelings, behavior, and outlook from the previous week
  • Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), also known as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) or abbreviated to HAM-D -- a multiple choice questionnaire that doctors may use to rate the severity of a patient's depression

When you take a test or inventory, you may feel uncomfortable responding honestly to questions or statements that are made. The person who administers the test will be asking about depression and mood, depression and cognition, and the physical feelings of depression such as lack of energy, sleep disturbance, and sexual problems. Try to be as honest as you can when assessing your symptoms. Then your doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the most effective treatment.

If the Diagnosis Is Depression

Depression is highly treatable. Consequently, a depression diagnosis can start you on the road to a healthier life without feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.

Once your doctor makes a depression diagnosis, you need to follow the treatment program to get better. It's important to take the medications as prescribed. You also need to follow through on making lifestyle changes and working with a psychotherapist if that's what your doctor recommends. Millions of people with depression suffer needlessly because they don't get professional help that starts with a doctor's diagnosis.

Reviewed by Amal Chakraburtty, MD on March 08, 2010

© 2010 WebMD, LLC

 

This Month In Pictures
beachtomato.jpg
Members Online
0 Users Online
Guests
Visible
No users online.
Follow Us On Twitter
Like Us On Facebook
Medical News
  • Sleep apnoea blamed for schizophrenia complications
    Undiagnosed sleep apnoea is being blamed for high rates of cardiovascular disease and memory loss among people with schizophrenia.
    Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News From Medical News Today
    Sunday, 28 August 2016 21:00
  • Replacing old memories with new for people who fear spiders
    Triggering, interrupting, and resaving the memory of something unpleasant may help people to lose their phobia of spiders or other sources of anxiety.
    Psychology / Psychiatry News From Medical News Today
    Sunday, 28 August 2016 21:00
  • Understanding the unhappy side of serotonin
    Antidepressants improve mood by boosting serotonin levels, but serotonin can have negative effects, too. Scientists have been exploring why this happens.
    Psychology / Psychiatry News From Medical News Today
    Saturday, 27 August 2016 21:00
  • Marijuana use leads to laziness, study suggests
    Rats given THC - a psychoactive compound in marijuana - were less willing to complete a difficult cognitive task in order to receive a greater reward.
    Psychology / Psychiatry News From Medical News Today
    Friday, 26 August 2016 06:00
  • Reducing prescription opioid addiction by switching receptors
    Addiction to opioid painkillers has risen rapidly over the last decade. Could its addictive power be reduced by switching to a different receptor subtype?
    Psychology / Psychiatry News From Medical News Today
    Friday, 26 August 2016 05:00
  • In unstable times, the brain reduces cell production to help cope
    People who experience job loss, divorce, death of a loved one or any number of life's upheavals often adopt coping mechanisms to make the situation less traumatic.
    Mental Health News From Medical News Today
    Thursday, 25 August 2016 21:00
  • Vitamin cocktails: An ethical dilemma of supply and demand
    The Daily Meal report on intravenous vitamin therapies - also known as vitamin drip treatments - which have gained popularity recently.
    Pharma Industry / Biotech Industry News From Medical News Today
    Thursday, 25 August 2016 21:00
  • Disruptions to sleep patterns lead to an increased risk of suicides
    The link between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts and behaviours is made starkly clear in new research from The University of Manchester, published in the BMJ Open.
    Sleep / Sleep Disorders / Insomnia News From Medical News Today
    Thursday, 25 August 2016 21:00
  • Psychosis associated with low levels of physical activity
    A large international study of more than 200,000 people in nearly 50 countries has revealed that people with psychosis engage in low levels of physical activity, and men with psychosis are over two...
    Schizophrenia News From Medical News Today
    Thursday, 25 August 2016 21:00
  • Schizophrenia symptoms eased with aerobic exercise
    Around 12 weeks of aerobic exercise was found to significantly improve the cognitive functioning of individuals with schizophrenia in a new study.
    Schizophrenia News From Medical News Today
    Friday, 12 August 2016 06:00
  • Mental stress may cause reduced blood flow in hearts of young women with heart disease
    Younger women with coronary heart disease and mental stress are more susceptible to myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, which can lead to a heart attack), compared to men...
    Mental Health News From Medical News Today
    Thursday, 25 August 2016 02:00
  • How epigenetics shapes neuronal excitability
    A new study suggests that epigenetic changes can alter the abundance of specific channels to control neuronal excitability, which is known to be dysregulated in many brain disorders.
    Mental Health News From Medical News Today
    Thursday, 25 August 2016 02:00
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Andertoon
Daily Toon Click to enlarge
ANDERTOONS.COM PSYCHIATRY CARTOONSPsychiatry Cartoonsby Andertoons
Tweets Liked by ~ Lindsay (@DepressionForum)
Depression Forums - A Depression & Mental Health Community Support Group
Copyright © 2014 The Depression Forums Incorporated - A Depression & Mental Health Social Community Support Group. All rights reserved.
The Depression Forums are intended to enable members to benefit from the experience of other members who have faced similar mental health issues by sharing their experiences.
* DF does NOT vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any posting or the qualifications of any person responding.
Use of the Forums is subject to our Terms Of Service (TOS) and forum guidelines which prohibit advertisements, solicitations or other commercial messages by members, or false, defamatory, abusive, vulgar, or harassing messages and may subject violators to be banned from the forums.
All postings reflect the views of the author but become the property of DepressionForums.org. Your personal information will never be shared with others.
If you have any questions on how it will be used, please see our our privacy policy.
Information supplied on Depression Forums should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for medical advice from a health professional or doctor.
* DF © is an acronym for DepressionForums.org