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The Approach to Evaluating Clinical Depression

When evaluating Clinical Depression, also called Dysthymic Disorder; Unipolar Depression, or Unipolar Disorder; Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), or recurrent depressive disorder, it is first helpful to rule out the possibility of other conditions possibly contributing to the apparent symptoms.

Comorbid Depression

Doctors take the approach that involves a depression test in order to rule out comorbidity, one or more conditions that contribute to the effects of depression. Such conditions can range from diabetes, to alcoholism, heart disease, cancer, methamphetamine abuse, or a symptom-enducing drug regimen, such as benzodiazepines taken for anxiety, insomnia or muscular spasms, for example.

Characteristic Symptoms

The term “depression” is a bit of a “catch-all” that can be indiscriminate. While being depressed is familiar enough to practitioners and laymen alike, the effects of Clinical Depression can take on more significance, especially as it relates to the ability of an individual to take care of their own health and hygiene, proper eating and sleeping habits, or how it may adversely affect school, family and work life.

Beyond the low mood characterized by low self-esteem, a loss of interest or the displeasure in life’s normal activities, doctors will use a depression test to get the best insight into mood or lack of motivation in order to ascertain a proper diagnosis. Effective treatment can be followed that will better relieve the effects of depression when it is understood what type of depression it is in the first place.

Diagnosis Protocols

It is important for the physician to record the results of a diagnostic assessment, including the individual’s current life circumstances, family history, biography and the current symptoms. There is an array of factors that may impact mood, including the choices made to alter those moods. Some of the items included in the rating scale of a depression test may include:

– the level of pessimism or hopelessness
– the potential of harm to self or to others
– the absence of a positive outlook as to thoughts or plans for life

Physical Examination

Doctors will conduct a physical exam and ask for lab tests that will help rule out the possibility of such conditions as thyroid disease, cancer or other serious illnesses contributing to the effects of depression. Doctors may also order a CT scan, MRI, an electroencephalogram (EEG) and an electrocardiogram (ECG). Injury or illness to the central nervous system can lead to symptoms of depression, such as:

– head trauma
– stroke
– heart problems
– cancer
– tumors affecting the central nervous system
– multiple sclerosis
– syphilis


While a person suffering from Clinical Depression may not be able to see it, there is a positive outcome that can come from proper diagnosis as it is a condition that is highly treatable. It is a matter of following the treatment program as prescribed by the physician, particularly where medications are concerned. Certain lifestyle changes may be advised through the recommendations made when working with a psychotherapist.

Consulting a physician and proceeding with a depression test to rule out any contributing conditions or influences will result in properly diagnosing and treating Clinical Depression. This is significant in recognizing that millions of people suffer needlessly when they do not follow this approach to evaluating the condition, receiving the proper treatment and altering the lifestyle to realize relief from its debilitating effects.

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