If you’ve been feeling persistently sad or empty lately, take this quick quiz to help determine if you may be suffering from depression.
The first critical step in seeking treatment for depression is recognizing whether you have any of the common symptoms. These can vary significantly but often include:
The symptoms may differ in severity, frequency, and duration, but they negatively impact daily functioning and quality of life. To get a clearer sense of whether your symptoms align with clinical depression, consider taking a short screening questionnaire. Examples include the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and the Beck Depression Inventory. These quiz you on the symptoms you’ve experienced over the past two weeks. You rate each question on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 3 (nearly every day). Your total score indicates if your results fall in the range of possibility for major depressive disorder.
While a screening quiz can provide initial insight, only a trained mental health professional can formally diagnose clinical depression based on an in-depth evaluation. Symptoms must persist for at least two weeks and impair functioning to be considered part of a depressive disorder rather than temporary sadness or grief. Left untreated, depression tends to worsen over time, so it is important to recognize signs early. Reaching out for help takes courage but is the first step toward feeling better.
Depression does not stem from a single cause. It often results from a complex interplay of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors influencing mood. Potential contributing causes include:
There are a few main types of depressive disorders, categorized by the severity, duration, and presumed cause:
Identifying the specific type of depression provides insight into the proper treatment methods. Those with milder situational depression may find relief through counseling, lifestyle changes, light therapy, or medication. More severe clinical depression often requires prescription antidepressant medication combined with psychotherapy for the best results.
If initial screening quizzes indicate you may have clinical depression, the next step is a complete diagnostic assessment by a mental health professional. A psychologist, psychiatrist, licensed therapist, or clinical social worker can do this more thorough evaluation. Diagnostic testing for depression involves an in-depth discussion of your symptoms, family and personal history, medical issues, substance use, traumatic experiences, and observable behaviors.
The clinician will guide you through answering rating scales and standardized questionnaires to help quantify and categorize your symptoms. Examples include the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, and Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. The mental health provider analyzes your responses and discusses your experiences to see if they align with the symptom criteria for a depression diagnosis based on the DSM-5 diagnostic manual.
Only a trained professional has the background to diagnose clinical depression and determine the subtype and severity accurately. Look for providers experienced in diagnostic testing and evaluation for mental health disorders. If you don’t feel heard or understood, seek a second opinion. Proper diagnosis directs the most effective treatment plan.
For mild to moderate depression, therapy may be an effective first-line treatment before trying antidepressant medication. Ongoing counseling provides coping skills and support to manage symptoms better and address negative thought patterns. The most commonly used therapeutic approaches include:
The therapeutic relationship provides encouragement, structure, and accountability in practicing new skills that better equip you to manage depression’s effects. Therapy can be done individually, with loved ones, or in groups. Online platforms like Talkspace also expand access to licensed therapists. Finding the right fit and approach leads to progress.
If you’ve noticed an ongoing low mood plus other symptoms like fatigue, isolation, or trouble sleeping and concentrating, assess whether depression may be the cause. Start by taking a short online screening quiz, then follow up with an in-person diagnostic evaluation by a mental health professional. Accurate diagnosis of any depressive disorder allows you to proceed with the most effective treatment, which commonly involves talk therapy, medication, or both. While depression cannot be overcome overnight, it is highly treatable, especially when identified early. Give treatment methods like cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants adequate time to work since progress happens gradually. With professional guidance and commitment to actively management your mental health, you can feel positive, focused, and fully engaged with life again. Make the call today to start evaluating if depression is negatively impacting you and take steps toward boosting your mood and well-being.