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Tests For Depression

Tests For Depression

There often comes a time when people feel sad and blue. Unfortunately, others can’t successfully overcome these feelings and end up having a serious illness called depression.

When a person is depressed, they are not able to perform daily living activities like they used to. They become unproductive and a burden to their family and the people around them. Depressive disorder is a common problem, but it is a serious illness that needs professional intervention.

Many people who have this illness hesitate to seek treatment. The truth is that there is always a cure for depressive disorder no matter how bad it may be. A treatment combination of psychotherapy, medication and many other proven methods can effectively help depressed patients.

Types of Depressive Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depressive disorders come in four different forms.

Major Depressive Disorder

People may experience one or more major depressive disorder episodes over their lifetime. This mental illness negatively affects the person’s normal functioning such as work, studying, eating and activities they are used to doing.

Minor Depressive Disorder

People who are experiencing symptoms that last for a week or more are suffering from a minor depressive disorder. There is some deviation from their normal functioning but not enough to cause disability. However, the condition can lead to major depressive disorder when left untreated.

There are different forms of minor depressive disorder. This includes psychotic depression. This mental condition happens when a person has severe symptoms with some form of psychosis. Other forms include postpartum depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Dysthymic Disorder

People with dysthymia may experience depressive disorder symptoms that may not be severe enough to disable them. However, they may only have one or two major depressive disorder episodes in their lifetime.

Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings. This condition is also referred to as manic-depressive disorder.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Difficulty making decisions, remembering details and concentrating
  • Feelings of helplessness, guilt, worthlessness, pessimism and hopelessness
  • Decreased energy and extreme fatigue
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Sudden loss of interest in activities they once engaged in including sex
  • Suicidal ideations and suicide attempts
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Persistent anxiousness, sad and empty feelings
  • Persistent digestive problems, aches, cramps and headaches that do not respond to medication

Warning Signs

A depressed person has a high risk of committing suicide. With this, anyone who talks about killing one’s self should be taken seriously. There are warning signs that loves ones should not ignore.

  • Sudden change in mood from sad to happy or being calm
  • Voicing out suicidal ideations, worthlessness, helplessness and hopelessness.
  • Making a death wish.
  • Trying to put their affairs in order.
  • Calling and visiting people they care about.
  • Losing interest in activities they used to engage in.
  • Trouble eating and sleeping

It is important that people who demonstrate these symptoms should be taken to a mental health professional immediately. There are also local suicide hotlines that they can call.


Doctors diagnose depressive disorders using different methods. Primarily, they talk with patients, observe their behaviors and interpret answers. They also conduct physical exams to determine the patient’s overall health. Doctors also recommend that patients go through laboratory tests. Although results may not directly diagnose the disease’s presence, they can rule out some underlying medical conditions that may have caused similar symptoms.

Depression Tests

Doctors have the patient undergo lab tests for thyroid disease or cancer. This is because the condition may have triggered the depressive disorder. Once the underlying medical condition is treated, the depressive symptoms subside.

During the physical exam, the doctor focuses on the patient’s hormonal and nervous systems. Some of the conditions that may contribute to the disease include hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland and an overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism. A problem with the adrenal gland or Cushing’s disease is also another possible contributor.

Other conditions that are linked to depressive disorders include head trauma, central nervous system tumors, stroke, syphilis, multiple sclerosis and prostate, pancreas and breast cancers. Some studies have also found that taking medication such as prednisone may also trigger depressive symptoms.

Depression tests also include laboratory procedures like blood chemistry test to check electrolytes, kidney and liver functions. These lab tests will determine if the body has the capacity to eliminate depressive disorder medications. With a dysfunctional kidney and liver, the body is less likely to respond efficiently to the treatment. In addition, patients will also be subjected to blood tests for calcium, thyroid hormones and anemia. Other testing methods include electrocardiograms, CT scans or MRIs and electroencephalograms.

Screening Tests

Doctors primarily use a two-part questionnaire. The questions provide doctors insight about the patient’s mood. From this, they will be able to determine the next action to take. They may use different screening instruments.

  • Center for Epidemiologic Studies Scale allows patients to evaluate their behavior, outlook and feelings over the past couple of weeks.
  • Beck Depression Inventory is a tool used to measure the condition’s severity. It is comprised of 21 self-reported multiple choice questions.
  • Hamilton Rating Scale is an instrument that is used to determine the condition’s severity level.
  • Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale is also used to rate severity level and comes in a short survey form.

Depressive disorder is a condition that people should not be scared of. This is because it is highly treatable. However, it is important that individuals who are experiencing the symptoms and the people around them seek professional treatment as soon as they suspect there is problem. There are a lot of efficient depression tests and methods to diagnose and cure this illness.

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