Diagnosing depression is like getting on a hot seat, with the doctor asking the client many questions. Currently there are no laboratory examinations to confirm the presence of depression, so the doctor will rely mostly on:
- the presenting signs and symptoms
- the client’s family history
- the client’s medical history
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
The doctor will take note in particular the following manifestations that can signal the presence of clinical depression:
- extreme sadness
- difficulty to focus or concentrate
- agitation or restlessness
The doctor will also ask the client:
- his/her sleeping pattern and eating habits, and social activities. Abnormalities in these are symptoms of depression.
- How long these symptoms have been felt or experienced, and their severity.
- If this is the first time the client has experienced the symptoms.
As part of the diagnostic process, the doctor takes a look at the client’s family history. Genetics, as it appears, is one factor why some people have greater tendencies of developing clinical depression than the others. Be truthful when asked if any one in your family has:
- Suffered from depression, regardless of whether the condition was diagnosed or not.
- Received treatment or undergone therapy for depression.
Current and Medical History
Definitely not to be missed is the determination of the client’s current medical condition and medical history. As depression can be brought about by insufficient intake of vitamins and minerals and hormonal imbalances, your doctor will look into your dietary habits and determine if you are not getting enough vitamin supplementation. Women are especially prone to depression because of hormonal changes that occur during pre and post pregnancy and menopause. The doctor will take these in consideration as well.
In addition, the following questions may also be asked:
- Have you been treated for depression before?
- What medications were you given? Which of these medications worked best for you?
- Do you drink alcoholic beverages? How much and how often?
Diagnosing depression can be a long process. Chronic depression, for instance, cannot be diagnosed immediately. For chronic depression to be diagnosed as such, the client has to have depression symptoms (on and off) for a period of two years at least. Thus it happens that many people do not at all realize the importance of getting treatment right away.
Nonetheless to be safe, changing your lifestyle can prevent depression or reduce its impact on your health. An ideal lifestyle that promotes well being physically and mentally includes:
- A rich diet of vegetables and fruits (preferably in their raw and fresh state)
- Vitamin supplements (especially Vitamin B).
- Proper stress management.