How to Test for Clinical Depression

Medically Reviewed on 12/1/2021
Clinical depression
Doctors test for clinical depression by asking a set of questions, known as depression screening tests.

Depression is a mood disorder that affects personal, family, social, educational, occupational, and other important functioning areas. It can affect thinking, feeling, and behavior in an adverse manner.

Depressed people may feel worthless, hopeless and are at risk of harming themselves (depression is a major risk factor for suicide).

Depression can affect everyone at any age, and it is estimated that one out of every six adults will suffer from it at some point in their life.

If you think you are suffering from depression, seek medical help immediately. Your doctor may ask a specific set of questions, called depression screening tests.

The following questionnaires and screening tools can help a mental health professional confirm the diagnosis:

  • The patient health questionnaire-9
  • Beck depression inventory
  • Zung self-rating depression scale
  • Center for epidemiologic studies-depression scale
  • Hamilton rating scale for depression

What are the different types of depression?

The different types of depression include:

What are the major causes of depression?

The exact cause of depression is unknown. However, it may be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.

Certain risk factors for depression

  • Parental or familial history of depression
  • Stressful events, such as the death of a loved one, financial crisis, physical or sexual abuse, and going through a divorce
  • Stress at work
  • Debilitating diseases, such as cancer and stroke
  • Chronic pain
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications, such as barbiturates, corticosteroids, benzodiazepines, opioid painkillers, and specific blood pressure medicine can trigger symptoms
  • Personality factors, such as pessimistic people are more prone to depression

Depression might be associated with any of the following conditions:

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

The symptoms of depression vary with people and can range from mild to severe, including:

  • Feeling sad often or all the time
  • Anxious for no reason
  • Irritable, frustrated
  • Not interested in daily activities
  • Unable to sleep or sleeping for long hours
  • Excessive eating or lack of appetite
  • Pains, headaches with no relief even after medications
  • Unable to concentrate or make decisions
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Planning to hurt oneself or suicidal tendency


Learn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication See Slideshow

How is depression diagnosed?

When you have five or more symptoms for at least two weeks, a diagnosis of depression is elicited.

What can you do to feel better?

When you feel quite down, try the following positive choices:

  • Reach out to others: Talk to your family, friends, sharing your feelings may help you feel better.
  • Physical activity: Regular exercise and a short walk could be beneficial.
  • Mood-boosting diet: Avoid foods that can adversely affect your moods, such as alcohol, sugar, and refined carbs. Dark chocolate, bananas, and almonds have mood-enhancing properties.
  • Find ways to engage yourself: Pick up a hobby or spend quality time with pets, loved ones, or plan a vacation.

Medications used for depression (antidepressants) stimulate serotonin or noradrenaline production along with lifestyle and social changes.

  • Self-guided changes lifestyle changes: Changing your sleeping pattern, spending time with family may help feel better.
  • Therapy: Counseling or psychotherapy with a mental healthcare provider may help cope with the sad feelings.
  • Alternative therapies: Therapies, such as acupuncture and hypnosis, might help.
  • Brain stimulation: For severe depression

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Medically Reviewed on 12/1/2021
Image Source: iStock Images

Torres F. What is depression. American Psychiatric Association.

National Institute of Mental Health. Depression.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health conditions.

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Bruce DF. Tests Used to Diagnose Depression. WebMD.