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.
You’re Preoccupied With Thoughts Of Death
Persistent thoughts about ending your life, wondering how friends and family would feel if you went and did it, pondering different ways to carry out the act, and even general thoughts about death are all strong indicators that it’s time to reach out for professional help, says Wolkin. “Because these thoughts pose such a direct threat to your life, it’s important to seek help if you experience them daily or almost every day for two weeks, even if you don’t recognize any other symptoms of depression in yourself,” she says.
How Long Does It Take To Diagnose Depression
It can take weeks after depression begins before it is diagnosed. This is partly because people may be resistant to ask for help, says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, Professor Emeritus of psychology and management at Union College and chief in the Division of Psychology at Ellis Hospital, both in Schenectady, New York.
When a primary care doctor is looking into whether a person is depressed, they may initially think the symptoms could be caused by a physical illness, Nydegger explains. Often, a primary care doctor may be looking at the persons medications or whether something is going on physiologically, he says. They are trying to rule out medical causes as the reason for the symptoms, which is appropriate, but then it can take longer to get a diagnosis.
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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/
Treatment: Medication For Depression Symptoms
Since depression disorders are caused in part by chemical imbalances in the brain, the use of psychiatric treatments is sometimes the only way patients can get back on their feet, improve sleep, and decrease stress. Depression is treatable with the right care, and a therapist can support you to get the help you need and start feeling more like yourself and less like your depression symptoms.
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What Is The #1 Cause Of Depression
The number one cause of depression is the tough stuff, the major life events that go wrong, says Steven Hollon, PhD, of Brentwood, Tennessee, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University. Depression can occur when people experience adverse life events such as the death of someone close, the loss of a job, or some type of psychological trauma. Depression can lead to more stress and dysfunction, which can worsen the depression itself.
There also is a connection between depression and physical health. For instance, cardiovascular disease can lead to depression .4,5
Thankfully, there are effective treatments for depression. We know that depression is a very treatable condition and that over 80 percent of people who receive appropriate treatment for their depression will improve significantly, says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, Professor Emeritus of psychology and management at Union College and chief in the Division of Psychology at Ellis Hospital, both in Schenectady, New York. Unfortunately, the large majority of people with depression never get appropriate treatment.
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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Depression Diagnosis And How Is Depression Diagnosed
Diagnosis of depression, and other mental illnesses, is different than for many other medical conditions. The depression diagnosis relies on information supplied by the patient both passively and through interviews. While this may seem haphazard, a depression diagnosis is highly standardized. Depression diagnostic criteria are clearly laid out, as is the examination used to evaluate those criteria.
What Your Physician Looks For
Your primary care physician can evaluate your physical health to help you understand your symptoms. Theres no lab test to diagnose depression, but physical exams and blood tests can help your doctor better understand whats causing your symptoms.
Your doctor will likely want to do several tests to rules out other causes of depressive feelings, such as:
- Hormonal changes
- Thyroid conditions
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
To treat your depression, your doctor may prescribe you medications to help or refer you to a licensed mental health professional, like a therapist, for more in-depth evaluation and treatment.
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What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor to see if they can suggest changes,
- get an advocate to help you speak your doctor,
- ask for a second opinion if you feel it would help,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
An advocate is independent from the NHS. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like. They arent available in all areas.
You can ask an advocate to help you make a complaint. Advocates that do this are called NHS complaints advocates. They are free to use and don t work for the NHS. They re available in all areas.
You can search online to search for a local advocacy service. If you cant find a service you can call our advice service 0808 801 0525 . You can email us too at . We will look for you.
Talk to your doctor about your treatment to see if you can resolve the problem with them first. If you dont agree with their decisions about diagnosis or treatment, you could ask for a second opinion. You are not legally entitled to a second opinion, but your doctor might agree to it if it would help with treatment options.
- Advocacy by clicking here.
Train Your Brain To Reduce Negativity
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful weapon for battling depression. Regular practice will teach you to witness your thoughts as they occur, which allows you to recognize negative thought patterns as they develop. When you learn to see them, you can proactively work to replace them with positive thoughts and mantras. Meditation puts you in touch with yourself and allows you to see depression and take back the power it holds over you.
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Does Therapy Help With Depression
Depression is a painful, but treatable, illness. Experts now say that with prompt treatment, depression is less likely to return later in life. Untreated depression can linger and get worse. Fear, isolation and loneliness are some of the effects of depression and, unfortunately, also make the illness worse.
With the help of qualified professional, you can work with thoughts and feelings that cause the pain and distress that contribute to depression. Supportive, kind professional help can break through the cycle of depression, providing relief and beginning the process toward recovery.
What Can I Do If I Have Depression
If you have symptoms of depression, see your healthcare provider. They can give you an accurate diagnosis, refer you to a specialist or suggest treatment options.
If you or someone you know is thinking of hurting themselves or taking their own life:
- Go to the emergency department of your hospital.
- Contact a healthcare provider.
- Speak to a trusted friend, family member or spiritual leader.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Depression is a common condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Anyone can experience depression even if there doesnt seem to be a reason for it. Causes of depression include difficulties in life, brain chemistry abnormalities, some medications and physical conditions. The good news is that depression is treatable. If you have symptoms of depression, talk to your healthcare provider. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can feel better
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/31/2020.
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Why Do People Develop Depression
Unfortunately, there is not one single answer to this question. Researchers have found that several different factors can cause depression. Its not always clear which possible cause of depression affects any given patient. In some people, several different problems may lead to this mood disorder.
While understanding the possible causes of depression can help, its best for individuals to speak with mental health professionals to help discover the cause of their mood disorders. A personalized approach is vital for depression.
The Complex Depression Equation: Treatment Options
After your depression severity is determined, your healthcare provider will speak with you about ways to lessen your depression .
According to a quick reference guide, Treating Major Depressive Disorder , available from the American Psychiatric Association , the severity of depression helps your healthcare provider determine an appropriate course of treatment. The provider will likely discuss your history, including medical, psychiatric, prescription, personal, and family. Taking into consideration your clinical condition, they will decide whether your treatment should take place at home or in the hospital .
Your healthcare provider then will choose an initial treatment plan, with the aim to induce remission of the major depressive episode and achieve a full return to the patients baseline level of functioning, states the APA guide. The APA advises healthcare providers to consider the following when selecting the initial treatment:
- Severity of symptoms
- Presence of co-occurring disorders or psychosocial stressors
- Biological, psychological, and environmental factors contributing to the current episode of depression
- Patient preference
- Prior treatment experiences
Talk therapy only works if you feel open and comfortable talking about your depression and other aspects of your life. With talk therapy, what you typically get out of it is based on the effort you put in.
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How Is Depression Diagnosed
To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least 2 weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Children and adolescents may be irritable rather than sad.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider. Primary care providers routinely diagnose and treat depression and refer individuals to mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.
During the visit, your provider may ask when your symptoms began, how long they last, how often they occur, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities. It may help to make some notes about your symptoms before your visit. Certain medications and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same depression symptoms. Your provider can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests.
Read NIMHs Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
How Can Depression Symptoms Lead To A Depression Diagnosis
To be diagnosed with major depression, you must have at least five of the symptoms listed above with at least one of the first two nearly daily for at least 2 weeks.
Depression symptoms can last weeks, months, or sometimes years. They can affect personality and interfere with social relationships and work habits, potentially making it difficult for others to have empathy for you. Some symptoms are so disabling that they interfere significantly with your ability to function. In very severe cases, people with depression may be unable to eat, maintain their hygiene, or even get out of bed.
Episodes may happen only once in a lifetime or may be recurrent, chronic, or longstanding. In some cases, they seem to last forever. Symptoms may appear to be precipitated by life crises. At other times, they may seem to happen at random.
Clinical depression commonly goes along with other medical illnesses such as heart disease or cancer and worsens the prognosis for these illnesses.
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What Are The Different Types Of Depression
Two common forms of depression are:
- Major depression, which includes symptoms of depression most of the time for at least 2 weeks that typically interfere with ones ability to work, sleep, study, and eat.
- Persistent depressive disorder , which often includes less severe symptoms of depression that last much longer, typically for at least 2 years.
Other forms of depression include:
- Perinatal depression, which occurs when a woman experiences major depression during pregnancy or after delivery .
- Seasonal affective disorder, which comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in late fall and early winter and going away during spring and summer.
- Depression with symptoms of psychosis, which is a severe form of depression where a person experiences psychosis symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations .
Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder also experience depression.
What Can I Do To Help Myself If I Feel Depressed
Depression is a serious but treatable illness. See your doctor and get help for recovery. It’s always a good idea to get a physical exam in order to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. You should tell your doctor that you think it might be depression, so that he or she can ask you the right questions and come to the most accurate diagnosis. Therapy is also very important. Many studies have shown that the most effective way to fight depression includes a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and self-care.
Self-education is an important part of self-care. One of the features of depression is that it distorts thinking. Everyone who has depression should learn as much as they can about the disorder. This achieves three things:
- It will allow you to understand the disorder better.
- It will underline the fact that these are very real medical disorders and will help to fight prejudice and stigma.
- It will give you knowledge and tools that you can use to help yourself.
Here are some other ways that you can help to take care of yourself, prevent relapse and maintain wellness:
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Talking To Your Gp About Depression
When you’re depressed it can be difficult to imagine that treatment can actually help. The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner your depression will improve.
Conditions such as an underactive thyroid can cause symptoms of depression. Your GP will do a urine and blood test to rule this out. There are no physical tests for depression. Your GP will tell if you have depression by asking you lots of questions. You will be asked about your health and how it is affecting you mentally and physically.
Try to be as open and honest as you can be with your answers. Describe your symptoms and how they’re affecting you.
Any discussion you have with your GP will be confidential. If you have thoughts or urges to harm yourself or others your GP would speak to your family and friends.