How to Diagnose Depression (Part 1) – Some Common Tools, Approaches & Techniques

diagnose depressionOne of the great paradoxes when trying to diagnose depression is that individuals who find they are falling down the ‘black hole’ often find it very difficult to self-diagnose their own condition. This confused state of mind makes it much more difficult for the sufferer to take the kinds of appropriate remedial actions or supplements for depression that will pull them back up again and allow them to lead normal healthy, active, social and productive lives again.

Depression Clouds Judgement Making Self – Diagnosis Difficult

Depression tends to cloud judgement and confuse the mind because it often occurs in tandem with other conditions and it is this tangling up of different but inter-related conditions that makes the diagnosis and treatment of depression more complicated than with diagnosing other more common mental imbalances.

It is this clouding of judgement and the tangling of different but apparently similar symptoms that makes it all the more vital that any attempt to diagnose depression must first examine and then rule out all other alternative possibilities that may be leading to low moods and feelings of anxiety.

For example, individuals who are suffering from serious medical illness like cancer, HIV or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will often find that in their weakened mental state the apparent symptoms of depression become more dominant, similarly an overreliance on drugs like cannabis or alcohol to self-medicate can create a strong and overpowering feeling of depression that is often transient and short term but can be interpreted as being permanently depressed. These feelings of depression are often increase if the individual attempts to stop drinking or smoking as the mind and body takes time to rebalance ,while purging the toxins that alcohol and other drugs can leave behind.

The purpose of this article is therefore to highlight some of the various tools, approaches and techniques that can be used to cut through the myriad of reasons for an apparent depressed state in order to clarify which of the many treatments is the most appropriate for any particular individual.

diagnosing depression Diagnose Depression Step 1 – See Your Doctor

It is important to note however, that if you think you are suffering or know anyone who you think is suffering from depression that a qualified medical professional is consulted. Self-diagnosis has its place as an initial first step, but as stated earlier individuals who are in the state will more often than not find it extremely difficult to be objective about their condition. Additionally it is important to note that there is no single test to confirm categorically 100% that an individual is suffering from depression but rather these tests need to be viewed and used as part of a more holistic approach to your mental health needs

Diagnose Depression Step 2 – Understanding Your Mental Health History

As I have just suggested, instead of attempting to self-diagnose in isolation and then treat yourself, the first step to take if you are feeling depressed or anxious, is to go and see your doctor. Medical professionals are trained to pre-screen potential cases of depression and anxiety by looking in close detail at your personal and family mental history as well as your general medical history. This important first step allows two things to happen. The first is you gain the support of a trained medical confidant and the second is that it allows you and your doctor to place your current depressed state in the context of what has gone on in the past. For example individuals who have been binge drinking alcohol or smoking cannabis will more often than not find themselves feeling low once the drinking and /or smoking has stopped because alcohol and/or cannabis withdrawal, no matter how minor affects mood temporarily. Typically in these instances your doctor would suggest getting as much rest as you can and riding through the symptoms until they cease.

Diagnosine Depression Step 3 –   Get a Physical Check Up

In addition to understanding your mental history, your doctor will almost certainly insist you undergo a thorough physical check-up. There are a number of physical conditions, like vitamin D deficiency, potassium deficiency (which can lead to thyroid problems) that may be contributing to your depressed state. A thorough physical and mental history check allows a doctor to assess whether or not you are clinically depressed and need to take prescription mood elevators or natural mood enhancers

In the second part of this article, we will examine some of the more common tools and approaches like The Beck Depression Inventory Test that are used by medical professionals to diagnose depression help establish the depth and breadth of your depressed state.

Stay Tuned for Part 2

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