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Top 6 Things You Should Know About the Diagnosis of Depression


Updated October 17, 2012

Information about how depression is diagnosed, including the official DSM-IV diagnostic criteria, the signs and symptoms to look for and the most common types of depression diagnoses.

1. How Is Depression Diagnosed?

Since depression cannot be diagnosed with any sort of laboratory testing, it must be diagnosed based upon your symptoms and medical history. To make things consistent, the criteria that doctors have agreed to categorize as major depressive disorder have been spelled in a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

2. What Are the DSM-IV Criteria?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is a book which defines the criteria by which mental disorders such as depression are diagnosed. The fourth edition is currently in use so it is often referred in short as the DSM-IV.

3. What Are the Main Types of Depression?

Depressive disorders fall into three categories -- major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder and depressive disorder not otherwise specified. The latter category includes disorders which do not fit into the first two (e.g. premenstrual dysphoric disorder). Specifiers describe the nature of the most recent episode of depression (for example, "atypical features" or "postpartum onset") or the course of the illness over time (for example, "seasonal pattern"). Depression may also be part of bipolar disorder, in which a patient experiences alternating periods of depression and mania.

4. What Are the Symptoms of Depression?

The article below lists the possible symptoms of depression. If you have had at least five of these symptoms within the past two weeks - especially if you feel depressed or have lost interest in things you used to enjoy - this could indicate that you have depression.

5. Is There a Screening Test for Depression?

Yes. Screening yourself for depression is very quick and easy. Just click the link below to take our free online depression screening right now.

6. I Think I'm Depressed, Whom Should I See to Get a Diagnosis?

If your score on the screening test indicates that you may have symptoms of depression, your next step is to see a doctor. But you may have questions about what kind of doctor to visit. This article will help you understand how to get proper diagnosis and treatment.
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