How Do Healthcare Providers Test for Depression?
I've been feeling really down lately and have been wondering if I'm suffering from depression. I'd like to talk to my healthcare provider about it, but I'm unsure of what to expect. How do healthcare providers test for depression?
Unlike some medical conditions that can be diagnosed with blood tests or other medical tests, there is no test for depression. Instead, your healthcare provider will want to talk to you to help make a diagnosis. He or she will want to know about your current symptoms and how long you've had them. Your healthcare provider may ask you questions about:
- Your mood and feelings
- Sleep and appetite changes
- Your energy level
- Whether you've been able to concentrate
- Thoughts of death or harming yourself
- Physical symptoms, such as headache and pain.
Your healthcare provider will also want to know about recent events in your life and about your family and personal health history. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider all the medications, vitamins, and supplements you currently take. Some medications may cause symptoms of depression.
A diagnosis of depression can be made with confidence if a person is experiencing at least five symptoms of the condition (see Symptoms of Depression) over at least a two-week period. The symptoms must be interfering with your daily life and cannot be caused by another condition.
A physical exam and lab tests may be done to make sure you don't have other medical illnesses that could cause depression. For example, hypothyroidism can cause symptoms of depression and can be ruled out with a blood test.
Be sure to speak openly with your healthcare provider to help him or her make an accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, a number of treatment options are available to help treat your depression.