Monday, June 24, 2024

When Can You Be Diagnosed With Depression

New Tools For Assessing Suicide Risk

Depression Treatment Options: A Quick-Start Guide: What to Do If You’re Diagnosed With Depression

The DSM-5 does include new scales for assessing suicide risk: one for adults and one for adolescents. These scales are intended to help clinicians identify suicide risk in patients as they are developing treatment plans.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

The tools are included in the new Section III of the DSM-5 and are intended to better support clinicians in identifying risk factors for suicide as well as scales for assessing suicidal behaviors .

What To Do If You Get Diagnosed With Depression

If youre diagnosed with any type of depression, know that you are not alone. Help and effective treatment is available, and there are simple, effective lifestyle changes you can make to begin feeling better, often right away. Lets look at some self-care and other techniques that can help keep you grounded and more positive in your daily life if you have depression diagnosed.

Can Depression Be Prevented

You can help prevent depression by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and practicing regular self-care activities such as exercise, meditation and yoga.

If youve had depression before, you may be more likely to experience it again. If you have depression symptoms, get help. Care can help you feel better sooner.

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Rule Out Other Conditions

If you identify with the symptoms of depression, your next step should be a visit to your family doctor or general practitioner for a thorough exam and screening. Your provider will ask you about your health history and risk factors and may use written questionnaires to assess your symptoms.

Your family doctor or general practitioner will also want to rule out several medical conditions that can contribute to symptoms of depression, such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies, female hormonal changes, and thyroid conditions. In addition, several medications may have depressive symptoms as a side effect.

If your general practitioner doesn’t find any of these factors as a cause of your depression, they may prescribe an antidepressant or refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.

In 2017, an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States experienced at least one episode of severe depression, or 7.1% of all adults. For adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years old, the percentage is even higher, with an estimated 3.2 million adolescents in the U.S. experiencing at least one major depressive episode in a year.

Signs And Symptoms Of Major Depression

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Each child may experience symptoms of major depression differently. To be diagnosed with major depression, a child needs to show at least one of the following two symptoms for most days of the week, for most of the day, during the same two-week period:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or irritability

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities once enjoyed

In addition, several of the following symptoms must also be present:

  • Feeling hopeless or helpless

  • Frequent physical complaints, such as a headache, stomachache, or fatigue

  • Thoughts of wishing to be dead

  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Its crucial to remember that depression symptoms and suicidal thoughts and behaviors must be taken very seriously.

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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

  • Feeling distracted

  • 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

Future Lab Tests For Depression

While they are not yet in common use by most health care providers, in the realm of psychological research there is much interest in the potential of biomarkers to help diagnose depression and other psychiatric conditions.

There are many factors that determine whether someone develops depression in their lifetime, including genetics and environment.

Research also continues to show how the brain and the body are inextricably connected the health of one influences the health of the other.

Some studies have been looking for a potential connection between levels of inflammation in the body and depression. Others are investigating how the gut microbiome might influence mental health.

A study published in 2013 explored the possibility of a connection between elevated cortisol levels in young adults and depression. In 2015, a study at UC San Diego proposed changes in a specific gene linked to the X chromosome may contribute to mental illness in women.

One day, we may be able to screen a persons genetic information, measure the levels of inflammatory markers in their blood, and look for changes in the structure of their brain to determine their risk for depression, diagnose the condition, and find the most effective treatmentbut were not there yet.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, , social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.

For people with anxiety disorders, the anxiety is often persistent and can get worse over time. The symptoms may interfere with their daily life.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Excessive fear and worry

If you experience these symptoms for six months or longer, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Activity: Working Through Itthinking About Your Diagnosis

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Writing your thoughts, concerns, questions and goals down can be a very helpful tool to help you make sense of your diagnosis and next steps. Working it out by writing can also help you describe what you’re going through to loved ones or health professionals. Also, if you need to access different services and supports, various professionals may start to ask you about your diagnosis including who provided the diagnosis and when it happened. Writing things down can help you remember what youve been told. If you add your thoughts and concerns too, writing can help you see your own progress over time in your recovery journey.

Step 1

Before you can be expected to deal with your diagnosis, you need to be able to put your diagnosis into words. Answer the following questions in your journal:

What diagnosis were you given?

Who provided you with the diagnosis?

When was it given to you ?

Did anyone else confirm this diagnosis? When?

What investigations were done to arrive at the diagnosis?

In lay words, what does this diagnosis mean? What does it involve?

What questions did you ask after you were given the confirmed diagnosis? If you can remember, what answers were you given for your questions?

How much did you already know about depression? Little? Some? A lot?

What attitudes and assumptions did you have about people with depression before this?

How much do you accept this diagnosis? Fully, Unsure, Dont accept it?

How much does it make sense with what you were experiencing?

Step 2

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Ways To Identify The Conditions

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, one place to start is to speak with your primary care doctor. They can do an initial screening and may look for medical conditions that could be contributing to your symptoms. You will likely then be referred to a mental health professional for an official clinical diagnosis.

The mental health professional will use the standard reference manual for diagnosing recognized mental illnesses in the United States, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition .

The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for depression and each anxiety disorder are different. A diagnosis might be harder to make when anxiety and depression overlap.

How Does A Doctor Diagnose Depression

If youre feeling more depressed lately, its normal to be wondering: How do I get diagnosed with depression? Doctors look for certain key symptoms when diagnosing someone for depression. They consult the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to make a depression diagnosis. The DSM-5 states you need to have experienced at least 5 of the following symptoms, for a minimum of two weeks, to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder .

  • Sadness
  • Repetitive thoughts of suicide or death
  • Problems falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Feeling detached, like youre moving in slow motion

Its not uncommon for a primary doctor to refer you to a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional. This could be the case, especially if your blood work and other preliminary tests dont show anything medically related that might cause of feelings of depression.

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What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause

Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:

  • disturbed sleep,
  • difficulties with work and your hobbies,
  • difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
  • suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.

Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.

If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.

Do I Need Health Insurance To Receive This Service

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The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

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How Can My Healthcare Provider Tell Whether I Am Sad Or Depressed

Throughout life, people face many situations that result in feelings of sadness or grief: death of a loved one, loss of a job, or the ending of a relationship. Your healthcare provider, during your appointment, will likely have an unstructured conversation with you to figure out whether you might be clinically depressed or whether you are struggling with a temporary sadness that is not depression.

While depression shares some characteristics with grief and sadness, they are not the same. Typically, people experiencing grief will feel overwhelming sad feelings in waves, according to the American Psychiatric Association. In the case of grief, self-esteem is usually maintained.

With Major Depressive Disorder , the painful emotions tend to persist without much relief and often are paired with feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing. The National Institutes of Health writes that Major Depressive Disorder causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. These symptoms must be present for at least two weeks in order to be diagnosed with depression.

Which Lab Tests Can Help Make The Depression Diagnosis

After reviewing the information from your appointment, including the signs and symptoms, patient history, family history, and physician exam, your doctor may ask for some lab tests to rule out a physical condition that may be causing your symptoms. Certain viruses, medicines, hormonal or vitamin deficiencies, and illnesses can cause depression-like symptoms. Your doctor will also want to review all medications youâre taking as well as the alcohol or recreational drugs you may be using.

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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.

Changes To Depression In The Dsm

Clinical Depression Signs & Symptoms (& How It’s Diagnosed)

While the DSM-5 doesn’t introduce any new diagnostic tests for depression, it does promote a new integrated approach for clinicians to diagnose mental health disorders.

Clinicians who were used to using the older methods for diagnosing depression didn’t have to completely change how they approached the process with the DSM-5, as the new integrated approach is compatible with previous assessment tools.

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How Does A Doctor Make A Depression Diagnosis

We’ve gotten used to doctors using special blood tests or other complex laboratory tests to help them make a conclusive diagnosis. But most lab tests arenât very helpful when it comes to diagnosing depression. In fact, talking with the patient may be the most important diagnostic tool the doctor has. The recommendation is that doctors routinely screen everyone for depression. This screening might take place during a visit for a chronic illness, at an annual wellness visit, or during a pregnancy or postpartum visit.

To effectively diagnose and treat depression, the doctor must hear about specific symptoms of depression. They may use a series of standard questions to screen for depression. While a physical examination will reveal a patient’s overall state of health, by talking with a patient, a doctor can learn about other things that are relevant to making a depression diagnosis. A patient, for example, can report on such things as daily moods, behaviors, and lifestyle habits.

A depression diagnosis is often difficult to make because clinical depression can show up in so many different ways. For example, some clinically depressed people seem to withdraw into a state of apathy. Others may become irritable or even agitated. Eating and sleeping patterns can be exaggerated. Clinical depression may cause someone to sleep or eat to excess, or almost eliminate those activities.

Common Types Of Therapy You May Encounter When Looking For Treatment:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy : The cognitive aspect can assist you in developing more helpful thoughts and beliefs about life. The behavioral side helps you learn healthier ways to act.
  • Interpersonal therapy: focuses on improving your relationships and helping you express emotions in healthier ways.
  • Family therapy: can help you and your family with communication, conflict and solving problems better.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: helps you explore unconscious emotions and motivations that can affect thoughts and actions.
  • Art therapy: can involve using music, dance, drawing and other art forms to express emotion and promote healing.
  • Psycho-education: helps you understand mental health conditions and ways to recover.

Getting therapeutic support is more important than the kind of therapy you choose. One clinical study randomly assigned participants to one of three treatments: cognitive-behavioral therapy focusing on ways of thinking short-term psychoanalytic therapy focused on dreams, memories and the unconscious or a brief psychosocial intervention focusing on strategies like encouraging pleasurable activities and combating loneliness.

Researchers found that 70 percent of participants in each treatment group improved. Among those who benefited from treatment, their symptoms declined by 50 percent over the next year.

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What If My Symptoms Dont Improve

If youre not responding to treatment, you may live with treatment resistant depression. This is when your symptoms have not improved after at least 2 standard treatments. This can also be known as treatment-refractory depression.

There is currently no official criteria used to diagnose treatment resistant depression.

What treatment is available for treatment-resistant depression?There are treatment options for treatment resistant depression. Even if antidepressants have not worked already for you, your doctor may suggest a different antidepressant from a different class.

The new antidepressant you are offered will depend on the first antidepressant you were given.

Sometimes your doctor can prescribe a second type of medication to go with your antidepressant. This can sometimes help the antidepressant work better than it does by itself.

Where antidepressants have not worked, your doctor may suggest talking therapies, ECT or brain stimulation treatments. See the previous section for more information on these.

What is an implanted vagus nerve stimulator, and how is it used in treatment resistant depression?If you live with treatment resistant depression, and youve not responded to other treatments, you may be able ask for an implanted vagus nerve stimulator.

Please speak to your doctor if youre interested in this treatment and for more information. You may be able to get this treatment funded through an Individual Funding Request.

  • NHS – Your Rights by clicking here.

New Specifiers For Depression

Can You Be Diagnosed With Depression

The DSM-5 added new specifiers to further clarify depression diagnoses when applicable: with mixed features and with anxious distress.

  • With mixed features: This new specifier allows for the presence of manic symptoms within a diagnosis of depression for patients who do not meet the full criteria for a hypomanic or manic episode .
  • With anxious distress: This specifier was added to account for the presence of anxiety, tension, or restlessness with the potential to impact prognosis and treatment choices.

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