Home >> Content >> How Is Depression Diagnosed?
Depression: How To Overcome It

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 15:38

Since many general medical illnesses can cause the same symptoms, a thorough medical evaluation is essential, especially if the first depression occurs after the age of 40. The first step is to seek treatment from a qualified professional whom you trust. You may choose to consult:

  • Your family physician or internist
  • A psychiatrist, a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness; psychiatrists are able to prescribe prescription medications and to diagnose general medical conditions
  • A psychologist, who is a therapist with a PhD in psychology and/or a related discipline, or a therapist with a master's degree
  • A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), who is a counselor with a master's degree in counseling
  • A marital, family, and child counselor (MFCC)
  • A psychiatric social worker or psychiatric nurse or nurse practitioner
  • A certified alcohol- and substance-abuse counselor, when depression is linked to alcoholism or drug addiction

Psychologists, counselors and social workers cannot write prescriptions, but they often work in association with a psychiatrist or general medical practitioner when medications are recommended.

It is important to seek treatment from a professional whom you trust. If the professional has a manner that seems indifferent, or intimidating to you in any way, seek a different professional.

The clinician will take a careful history, asking about:

  • How the symptoms developed, how long they have been present, how severe they are, and if they have ever been treated before
  • Past and current medical conditions
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Family medical history
  • Family psychiatric history, especially as pertains to blood relatives who have or who have had depression
  • Whether suicide has ever been considered or attempted

This article continues: