Is It Sadness or Depression? Know When You Need Extra Help

Sadness or Depression

To diagnose depression, your healthcare provider will consider your symptoms in relation to the symptoms of depression listed in a medical guide called the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,”or DSM-5. It’s published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM-5 is the authoritative guide to diagnosing mental disorders in the United States. It contains disorder descriptions and symptom information. The DSM-5 states that at least five or more of the above symptoms must be present during the same two-week period to confirm a diagnosis of depression.

Along with that information, there are a number of medical tests your doctor can use to help confirm a diagnosis and rule out other conditions, including:

  • Questionnaire: Your doctor or primary care physician may ask you how you’ve been feeling about your moods lately, and they may ask you to take a short questionnaire to help identify any symptoms.
  • Physical exam: This is used to gather information about your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
  • Lab tests: A complete blood count test and thyroid test can help rule out other conditions, such as thyroid problems, which can cause symptoms similar to depression.
  • Psychological tests: Your doctor may refer you to a psychologist or other mental health provider who can administer a more detailed psychological evaluation to assess your feelings, thoughts, and patterns of behavior that may indicate depression.

There are many different types of depression, and these tests can help diagnose a specific form of depression. Depression can manifest in many ways, including:

  • anxiety
  • melancholy
  • mania
  • atypical features
  • psychosis
  • catatonia

Depression often goes undiagnosed. See a doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms. It’s important to get a diagnosis from a doctor or healthcare professional and to not self-diagnose.