Diagnosing Depression - Getting a Diagnosis

Diagnosing depression becomes important if most of the signs and symptoms are present and one is not able to overcome feeling down and miserable over an extended period of time. In such a case, it may be best that one approach a health care provider or practitioner who will diagnose depression by speaking to the patient, asking a series of questions, or administering a depression test or scale.

There are several tests and quizzes that are available online if one is interested in taking a self-administered test. However, for serious or sustained cases, it is advisable to seek the help of a licensed professional, since the results would then be interpreted more accurately.

While general practitioners (GP) will be able to make an assessment by speaking to the person showing signs and symptoms of depression, when it comes to diagnosing depression, it is advisable, if possible, to approach a licensed psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker who has the relevant experience and qualifications.

There are various steps involved in diagnosing depression and well-trained, certified professionals will be able to diagnose the nature of clinical depression, the severity of depression, and also try and establish the cause of the problem.

All three factors mentioned are extremely important in diagnosing clinical depression, mainly because adequate and appropriate treatment has to be started at the earliest. Treatment, medication, and therapy will be changed from time to time depending upon the response to such interventions.

One must remember to share all information openly and frankly with the practitioner, mainly because if the cause of depression is established during the initial examination, the right treatment can be administered and one can start seeing signs of improvement almost immediately.

Certain medications and / or medical conditions could be the reason for causing depression and if this is brought to the attention of the psychiatrist or psychologist, they can then rule out other causes and diagnose the exact nature and reason for depression.

Diagnosing depression therefore will need a lot of cooperation from the patient as well as the family. Causes of depression could be hereditary or familial in nature; therefore, someone who is known to the patient and his or her family should accompany the patient and share all the relevant information with the therapist. This will help in obtaining a depression diagnosis quickly and accurately.

Diagnosing depression will generally involve answering questions during an in-person session with the therapist, or filling out a questionnaire supplied by the therapist. Sometimes, certain laboratory tests might be requested and this is primarily to rule out or confirm certain physiological signs and symptoms.

Some of the common tests, scales and inventories used to assess and diagnose depression are the Beck Scale of Depression, Hamilton Scale of Depression, and Geriatric Depression Scale.

There are several online tests that are available that help in making a self assessment. However, if the problem is persistent or serious, it would be advisable to visit a family healthcare physician or a licensed mental health therapist to help in getting a proper depression diagnosis.

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