What Are The Symptoms Of Depression And How Is It Diagnosed
The NHS recommends that you should see your GP if you experience symptoms of depression for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks.
Doctors make decisions about diagnosis based on manuals. The manual used by NHS doctors is the International Classification of Diseases .
When you see a doctor they will look for the symptoms that are set out in the ICD-10 guidance. You do not have to have all of these to be diagnosed with depression. You might have just experience some of them.
Some symptoms of depression are:
- low mood, feeling sad, irritable or angry,
- having less energy to do certain things,
- losing interest or enjoyment in activities you used to enjoy,
- reduced concentration,
You may also find that with low mood you:
- feel less pleasure from things,
- feel more agitated,
- find your thoughts and movements slow down, and
- have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Your doctor should also ask about any possible causes of depression. For example, they may want to find out if youve experienced anything traumatic recently which could be making you feel this way.
There are no physical tests for depression. But the doctors may do some tests to check if you have any physical problems. For example, an underactive thyroid can cause depression.
On the NHS website, they have a self-assessment test which can help you to assess whether you are living with depression: www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/clinical-depression/overview/
What Should I Do If I Think I Am Depressed
An appointment with your doctor can rule out other medical conditions that might cause symptoms such as disturbed sleep, reduced energy, and changes in appetite. Dont be afraid to tell your doctor you think you may be depressed. Depression and anxiety are common so general practitioners and family practice doctors are ready to assess and diagnose it. Your doctor may ask you questions about how things have been for you lately, or get you to complete a questionnaire.
Your doctor may direct you to see a psychiatrist, a medical doctor with additional training and experience with mental health. Either a medical doctor or a psychiatrist can prescribe medication, if you both decide thats the best option.
A clinical psychologist or licensed therapist is also qualified to make a diagnosis. The strongest approach to treating depression is a combination of medication and therapy. You, your medical practitioner and your therapist can contribute to your plan for treatment. All of these health care professionals can then help you decide the best way to begin getting better.
Diagnosing Depression And The Physical Exam
Again, the goal with a physical exam is usually to rule out another medical cause for depression. When performing the physical exam, the doctor may focus primarily on the neurological and endocrine systems. The doctor will try to identify any major health concerns that may be contributing to symptoms of clinical depression. For example, hypothyroidism — caused by an underactive thyroid gland — is the most common medical condition associated with depressive symptoms. Other endocrine disorders associated with depression include hyperthyroidism — caused by an overactive thyroid — and Cushing’s disease — a disorder of the adrenal gland.
Many central nervous system illnesses and injuries can also lead to depression. For example, depression might be associated with any of the following conditions:
- Central nervous system tumors
Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone, which people take for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or asthma, are also associated with depression. Other drugs, including illegal steroids, excessive alcohol use,Ã and amphetamines and over-the-counter appetite suppressants, may cause depression on withdrawal.Ã
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How Can I Get A Depression Diagnosis
If you think you may be showing some of the signs of depression, making an appointment with your GP is a good place to start. Theyll be able to assess your symptoms and either diagnose your depression, or refer you to a mental health specialist for a further review.
Alternatively, you could contact a private provider, such as Priory, directly. Our team will be able to signpost you to the most appropriate specialist for your needs and arrange an initial assessment, where youll be able to receive a diagnosis.
Thinking About Treatment Recovery And Beyond
It may take time to find the exact combination of treatments and support for you, but you can expect to feel better. With treatment, at least 80% of people recover.
Most people talk about recovery in terms of controlling symptoms so they can live well without letting depression get in the way. Everyone’s recovery journey looks different. Some parts may take a long time, while others will pass quickly. You may even take a few steps back from time to time. What matters is being kind to yourself, working on your health in a way that makes sense to you, and seeking extra support when you need it.
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How Common Is This In My Practice
The Singapore Mental Health Study 2010 reported that major depression was the most common mental illness with a lifetime prevalence of 5.8%, followed by alcohol abuse and obsessive compulsive disorder. However, only 18% of patients with mental disorders sought help from primary care practitioners. The risk of major depression is significantly higher in the older population. As such, primary care doctors need to be familiar with the diagnosis and management of major depression.
Diagnosing Depression And Lab Tests
Your doctor can usually tell if you have depression by asking you specific questions and doing a physical exam. Your doctor may, however, ask for lab tests to rule out other diagnoses. Your doctor will likely do blood tests to check for medical conditions that may cause depressive symptoms. They will use the blood tests to check for such things as anemia as well as thyroidÃ or possiblyÃ other hormones, and sometimesÃ calcium and vitamin D levels.
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What Treatment Should I Be Offered
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence writes guidance on what treatment doctors should offer you. But your doctor does not have to give you these treatments. And the treatments may not be available in your area.
Different treatments may be available in your area. Your doctor might think these suit your symptoms more than the recommended treatments.
NICE recommend that depression is treated in different steps depending on how severe the condition is for you. The steps are as follows.
Step 1: Everyone who may have depression
Your doctor should offer you:
- an assessment of your symptoms,
- support, such as regular appointments in person or by telephone,
- information on how to deal with your symptoms,
- monitoring of your symptoms and follow-up, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 2: Mild to moderate depression
Your doctor may offer you:
- low-intensity interventions, such as self-help guided by the doctor or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- physical activity programmes,
- group cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- medication if you have a history of moderate or severe depression, or you have had symptoms for a long time, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 3: Moderate to severe depression, or mild to moderate depression when other treatments havent worked
Your doctor may suggest:
Step 4: Severe and complex depression or if your life is at risk Your doctor may suggest:
How Do I Talk With These Health Professionals
The most effective way to take charge of your health is through shared decision-making, which means you and your doctor work together to make a treatment plan that works for you.
Some people prefer to be very involved in their care while others prefer less direct involvement. Your role may vary depending on the stage of your illness you’re at: whether you’ve been recently diagnosed or whether you have a lot of experience with your illness. Regardless of your preferred level of involvement, you do need to be involved in some way.
Depression can affect how you interact with your health professional. It can affect your memory and concentration. It’s helpful to look for ways to keep track of everything so you have the information when you need it. You could use apps on your phone to take daily notes, track changes in your mood, write down questions you’d like to ask at your next appointment, and set reminders so you don’t forget appointments. Some people carry a notebook with them. Online screening self-tests are another great tool: you can print out your screening results to bring to appointments. Some people also find it helpful to bring trusted family members or friends to appointments.
Defining the problem. Your role is explaining the problem in your own terms.
Setting goals. Deciding what the goals of treatment will be, or deciding what will happen as a result of treatment.
Step One: Defining the problem
Step Two: Setting goals
Step Three: Making decisions
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Why Does My Mental Health Professional Ask Me About Mania
Depression and bipolar disorder share some symptoms, but they are different illnesses that require different treatments. Bipolar disorder includes episodes of depression as well as episodes of mania. Mania can be harder to see, so bipolar disorder may be diagnosed as depression. Depression can be more troubling than mania, so many people seek help for depression first.
Common signs of mania include:
Feeling like you need less sleep
Feeling like your thoughts are racing
Taking on many tasks or making big plans that you cant realistically complete
Taking big risks you wouldnt normally consider, like going on expensive shopping sprees
Some people interpret mania as periods when they’re simply “very creative” or “very productive,” but mania can have a lot of negative consequences. It’s important to see if mania is part of the picture so you get the right treatment and support. For more on mania and bipolar disorder, find bipolar disorder info sheets at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/bipolar-disorder.
Can A Blood Test Diagnose Your Depression
Researchers are closing in on a host of helpful blood tests. Heres the latest developments.
When youre running a fever and feeling bad, your doctor will request lab tests to help determine whats making you ill. A simple blood test can pinpoint the diagnosis and help your doctor prescribe the best treatment. But symptoms of mental illness are far more complex to diagnose and treat so researchers are working to develop clinical tests diagnose depression and determine the best treatment.
If you struggle with depression or know someone who does, this news is huge. Seeking treatment and help is the first step towards recovery one that those suffering with depression symptoms often find difficult because their condition has left them tired, disinterested or feeling defeated. Knowing that a doctor or clinic can run blood tests to help kick-start recovery is a game changer.
But is it here now? Researchers have found some promising results:
Doctors routinely use blood tests to rule out medical conditions that may cause symptoms of depression or even contribute to depression, such as anemia, thyroid disease or a vitamin D deficiency. They also use series of questions or a questionnaire to screen for depression, along with a detailed medical history and a discussion of your mood and how it impacts your daily life.
Wondering if you are at risk for depression? Take Dominion Hospitals confidential and free online Depression Risk Assessment.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Depression
Depression can affect your emotions, mind and body. Depression symptoms include:
- Feeling very sad, hopeless or worried.
- Not enjoying things that used to give you joy.
- Being easily irritated or frustrated.
- Eating too much or too little.
- Changes in how much you sleep.
- Having a difficult time concentrating or remembering things.
- Experiencing physical problems like headache, stomachache or sexual dysfunction.
- Thinking about hurting or killing yourself.
If you or someone you know has thoughts of hurting themselves, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides free, private emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How Doctors Identify And Diagnose Anxiety Disorders
Some illnesses are simple to identify. Take , for example. All your doctor needs to make a diagnosis is a simple throat swab. Anxiety disorders, however, can be more complicated to diagnose.
A diagnosis is based on:
Your symptoms including your behaviors, thoughts and feelings
How your symptoms affect your life
When your symptoms occur
How long youve had symptoms
Whether your symptoms are caused by something else, like medication side effects
If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, see your doctor. Most people diagnosed with anxiety find that their symptoms improve with treatment.
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Signs You Should Talk With Your Doctor About Depression
Havent felt like yourself lately or longer than just lately? When you feel tired all the time, disinterested in the people, places and activities you love and altogether fatigued in body and mind, you might be facing depression. But you dont have to struggle with it alone, and you can receive help.
Depression isnt a dirty word. Its an extremely common mental health condition almost 17 million Americans have major depressive disorder and most importantly, you can overcome it. Depression might come and go during your lifetime, but its nothing to be ashamed of, and its fully treatable.
If you feel like you might have depression, its normal to feel nervous talking about it. However, your health care team wants to help you feel like yourself again. Your physician, as well as the whole team of compassionate people at the AdventHealth Neuroscience Institute, are here to talk through your symptoms with you non-judgmentally and help you get the treatment that works.
Where Can I Find Clinical Trials For Depression
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so others may receive better help in the future.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and around the country conduct many studies with patients and healthy volunteers. Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials information.
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Screening Particularly In Patients At Risk
Major depression is a chronic illness of considerable morbidity, with high rates of relapse and recurrence however, many patients suffering from major depression do not seek help early. This could be due to various factors: lack of insight into their medical condition the stigma associated with the label of mental illness and financial factors. The SMHS found that the median time between the onset of illness and help-seeking was five years. Hence, viewing screening as the first step, followed by diagnosis, early treatment and follow-up, was shown to result in better outcomes.
Which patients are at greater risk of major depression?
Apart from the usual symptoms of major depression such as insomnia and low energy level, patients often present to primary care doctors with somatic symptoms. Physical symptoms associated with major depression include backaches, nonspecific musculoskeletal complaints, having multiple somatic complaints, and having vague complaints. Patients may experience deteriorating memory as well. A review has shown that major depression is associated with attention deficit and poor cognitive functioning, particularly when the patient is acutely depressed. The elderly, in particular, are less likely to report low mood, instead presenting with physical complaints and deterioration in cognitive ability.
Persons at risk of major depression include those with
How do I screen for major depression in primary care?
Receive Treatment For Your Depression
If you believe you have depression, you are not alone. Since depression is a common condition, experts have developed multiple treatment options to help patients deal with a wide range of symptoms, life experiences, and barriers. The only way to know how to treat your depression is to speak with your doctor.
If you believe you have depression, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional as soon as possible. Your doctor can evaluate your condition, determine which treatment options are right for you, and develop a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. Through this treatment, you can gain the skills and strategies you need to cope with difficult moments and restore your quality of life.
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Mental Health Problems An Introduction
Explains what mental health problems are, what may cause them, and the many different kinds of help, treatment and support that are available. Also provides guidance on where to find more information, and tips for friends and family.
To diagnose a mental health problem, doctors will look at:
- your experiences
- how long you’ve been experiencing these things
- the impact it’s having on your life.
To do this they may ask you questions about your mood, thoughts and behaviours sometimes by using questionnaires or forms. They will base your diagnosis on what you describe. For example, if you tell your doctor you’ve been experiencing low mood, low energy and a lack of interest in usual activities for more than two weeks, they may give you a diagnosis of depression. If your symptoms change you might find you are given different diagnoses over time.
Having a diagnosis does not necessarily mean that you are unwell right now. You could have a diagnosis of a mental health problem but, at the moment, be able to manage it and function well at work and at home. Equally, you might not have a particular diagnosis, but still be finding things very difficult. Everyone’s experience is different and can change at different times.
“Getting the PTSD diagnosis gave me something to work with and find the words to describe what was happening.”