Depression – Tests and Diagnosis

The earlier a person looks for help to treat his depression, the better and faster will his depression be cured and the better it also is for his loved ones. Too often are the warning signs ignored and it seems to the person that he can handle them and shrug it off viewing them as merely a passing phase; however, more often than not, the depression worsens and both the affected person and his loved ones find it hard to cope with the problems wrought by this condition.

Depressed people oftentimes go to a psychologist or psychiatrist for professional help who will determine and/or confirm the diagnosis. The word depression is a general term that can relate to a wide spectrum of depressive disorders. So in order to correctly treat the depression the physician needs to be certain of the type and address it accordingly.  Only with a proper diagnosis can treatment follow promptly.

Patient’s Personal and Family History

The physician records the detailed history of the patient’s background, signs and episodes of depression. The patient needs to provide true information to the doctor to help treat his depression.

Observation of Symptoms

The doctor will query the patient about the emotional and physical symptoms of the latter’s depression including his inability to experience pleasure. The doctor will also observe telltale signals of depression like low energy and motivation and low threshold of frustration.

Some other information that may be vital to treatment is weight loss or gain as well as any loss in sex or libido – in the case of females, any irregularities in their menstrual cycle. Early morning awakening and insomnia can be signs of depression. Depressed people are often constipated and have dry mouths and headaches.

Tests for Depression

The psychologist will perform tests to observe and determine the mental state of the patient. The behavior and general appearance of the patient can tell a lot especially if the patient avoids eye contact and/or looks agitated. An uncaring attitude about his appearance, a downcast countenance or a lack of spontaneity in talking, irritability and sadness can be seen in a depressed person.  The patient may have poor memory and an impaired judgment as well.

If the psychologist sees about five or more of the aforementioned symptoms present in the patient, he may diagnose the patient with clinical depression. The psychologist also delves in the patient’s occupational, social and normal life to see where the cause of the depression originates. He looks into the personal history of the patient to ascertain if the symptoms do not come from bereavement from a loss or substance abuse. If he finds out that the patient has been in a state of depression for more than two months and finds it very hard to live life normally, the psychologist may diagnose him with major depression.

There are also different symptoms of depression found in different age groups:

  • Young depressed people can have an antisocial behavior, be promiscuous and be substance abusers.
  • Elderly depressed patients are saddled with disorientation, confusion and memory loss.

Today’s medicine is well-equipped to assist a depressed person whatever the diagnosis is. The diagnosis can be easily determined if the patient cooperates with the physician/psychologist.

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