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How to Diagnose Depression? - A View from a Psychiatrist

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How to Diagnose Depression? - A View from a Psychiatrist

1 min read


Depression is very common cause of mental health morbidity. it is like common cold of psychiatry. Its etiology is on the basis of bio psychosocial model

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sneha Kannan

Published At June 26, 2015
Reviewed AtJune 8, 2022

It has been said that depression is a common cold of psychiatry and it is very common in our society. There is 12% to 16% risk of developing depression to any individual during his or her lifetime. And it is more common in women than in men.

The etiology is on the basis of bio-psycho-social model; -- meaning there is a genetic component, there are neurotransmitter changes, daily hussles, chronic life stressors -- all these work in the development of depression.

If a person develops depression then, it does not mean that he is weak from his mind. Every individual is susceptible to it. Depression is diagnosed according to cluster of symptoms like duration of more than 14 days, with symptoms like:

  • Persistent sadness most of the time of day.
  • Decreased interest in previously pleasurable activities.
  • Anhedonia.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Appetite changes.
  • Easy fatigability.
  • Weakness.
  • Decreased concentration in work.
  • Excessive inappropriate guilt.
  • Hopelessness-helplessness-worthlessness.
  • Death wishes and
  • Suicidal thoughts.

The last 2 symptoms (Death wishes and Suicidal thoughts) when present, it indicates these are depression and immediate intervention and hospitalization is needed.

It has been researched and proved that up to 70% of the patient improves with anti-depressant medications only and 85% of the patient improves with electroconvulsive therapy. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is safe and very effective in context of its beneficial effects.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Does the Therapist Diagnose Depression?

The therapist diagnoses depression through physical examinations, personal conversations, and laboratory tests. The symptoms reported by the patient also help in the diagnosis of depression. The common symptoms are sadness, irritability, sleep disorder, and loss of appetite.


Can a Physician Diagnose a Patient With Depression?

Yes, the physician can diagnose the patient with depression by performing physical examinations, asking health-related questions to determine the existence of depression in an individual, and understanding the patient’s symptoms.


What Is the Opinion of Experts About Depression?

Experts suggest that biological, environmental, genetic, and psychological factors play an important role in causing depression. Depression can occur along with other illnesses and disorders like cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, and heart disease. It can also tend to make these conditions worst.


What Test Can Be Performed to Diagnose Depression?

Depression is usually a clinical diagnosis based on physical findings and the patient's history. The symptoms of the patient can be used for the diagnosis of depression. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) are used to diagnose depression.


What Other Conditions Can Be Ruled Out Before the Diagnosis of Depression?

The diagnosis of depression can be ruled out from the physical findings of a person, such as loss of pleasure or interest in activities. Adolescents and children may become irritable instead of sad if suffering from depression. Some people may develop self-harm or suicidal symptoms.


What Are the Four Major Causes Of Depression?

The major causes of depression are stressful events, loneliness, family history, and mental illness. These causes can affect an individual adversely and may remain a lifelong problem. The causes of depression should be observed and reported to the therapist during counseling.


What Happens When Depression Is left untreated?

Untreated depression can lead to severe problems and increases the chances of adopting alcohol or drug addiction. Depression leads to the release of glucocorticoids, a type of steroid hormone that can damage the brain and other parts of the central nervous system (CNS). If left untreated, depression can adversely affect human beings.


What Are the Hormones Released During Depression?

The hormones released during depression are low levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Depression affects women during postmenopause and estrogen-producing years. These hormones may cause adverse affect on humans, which may be associated with mood swings.


Enumerate The Three Levels Of Depression.

Depression can be mild, moderate or severe, psychotic, or melancholic. Mild depression is considered low-grade and has symptoms like a lack of motivation, irritability, and sadness. Moderate depression involves symptoms such as increased psychomotor activity, sleep difficulty, and low mood. Melancholic depression is a major form of depression that involves loss of pleasure almost in everything.


What Is the Last Stage Of Depression?

The last stage of depression is an acceptance that the person has achieved peace with the reality of their mental illness. The person accepts with depression as a part of their life in the last stage. It can often make the person think of ending their life.


What Is the Peak Age of Depression?

The age group in which depression is experienced chiefly is 18 to 29. Teenagers and young adults are more prone to depression. Sometimes major transitions are seen in human behavior suffering from depression.


Can a Person Be Born With Depression?

Some individuals are born with depression due to their family history or genetic makeup. Research proves that 40 % of depression is traced due to an individual's genetic predisposition. Environmental factors make up the remaining 60 % of depression developed during an individual's lifetime.


What Are the Changes Depression Causes to the Brain?

Depression has the potential to affect the physical structure of the brain. It causes the brain to increase cortisol levels which decreases the development of neurons in the brain. Several parts of the brain tend to shrink when suffering from depression for a longer time.
Dr. Soni Ravi Mukundkumar
Dr. Soni Ravi Mukundkumar



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