Depression is a common but critical medical disorder that negatively affects the way you feel, think, and act. The condition induces feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair, and/or a loss of interest in activities that once seemed enjoyable and pleasurable. Depression can lead to a variety of physical and emotional problems, and may even reduce one’s ability to function at home or work.
How many people are affected by depression globally? According to the reports of the World Health Organization1, over 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression worldwide. Who is susceptible to the condition? Although mental illness can affect anyone regardless of gender, studies suggest that women are more likely to be affected by depression than men are.
Depression is a lot different from regular mood fluctuations and brief emotional responses to everyday challenges of life. Chronic or long-term depression with severe or moderate-intensity may become a serious health condition. Over time, it can go on to interfere with your routine tasks, thought process, and behavioral patterns. What is worse, depression can even lead to suicide.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with depression or if you think you might be suffering from any type of depression, it is essential that you follow up with a doctor. If you have never had the condition before, you should start by discussing the symptoms with your healthcare provider. Your doctor may ask you a series of questions that may help with a depression diagnosis. You will likely be asked the following –
- When was the first time you started noticing the symptoms?
- How are the symptoms affecting your quality of life?
- An underlying mental health condition you might have
- Information about a family history of mental illness
- Whether you are under some OTC and prescription medications or supplements
Be sure to answer all the questions as precisely as possible, as that will help your doctor diagnose depression more accurately.
What are the Different Methods to Diagnose Depression?
There are no laboratory tests to diagnose mental health problems, such as depression. However, there are certain tests that may be used to rule it out. If your doctor is unable to find any other cause for the symptoms, he/she may refer you to a certified mental health expert for evaluation. You can expect the expert to ask in-depth questions related to the condition or you may be asked to fill out a depression-rating questionnaire.
The following types of questionnaires can be used to gauge your level of depression –
Beck Depression Inventory
This BDI consists of 21 self-reported questions on depression. These are designed to help your mental health expert assess your behaviors, symptoms, and moods. Each of the answers is scored on a scale of zero to three to indicate the seriousness of the symptoms.
Hamilton Depression Rating Scale
This particular questionnaire is designed in a way to determine the gravity of depression in people who have been diagnosed already. Like BDI, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale2 also consists of 21 questions, each relating to a specific symptom or sign of depression. Multiple-choice answers are given a score of zero through four. Higher the scores, the more severe the condition.
Zung Depression Self-rating Scale
This particular screening tool is used to assess the level of depression in individuals suffering from this mood swing disorder. The set of 20 questions gives a score range between 20 and 80. People who are the most depressed usually score between 50 and 69. The condition is said to be severe if the person scores above 69.
Is there any Treatment for Depression?
Effective treatments are available for severe and moderate depression. Your healthcare provider may offer specific psychological treatments, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, behavioral activation, and Interpersonal Therapy, along with antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs and TCAs.
Coping with depression can be challenging on its own. It is important that you identify the signs and seek diagnosis at the soonest. Early depression diagnosis can help prevent the condition from getting worse while proper treatment may help alleviate the signs, improve your overall condition and improve the quality of life, thus allowing you to carry return to your regular self. Read more on the different ways to treat depression.