How To Get A Clinical Diagnosis
Theres no single test that can diagnose depression or anxiety. Instead, your doctor will likely conduct a physical exam and a depression or anxiety screening test. For this, theyll ask you a series of questions that help them get a better insight into what youve been experiencing.
If the results arent clear or if your doctor suspects the symptoms may be the result of another condition, they may order tests to rule out underlying issues. Blood tests can check your thyroid, vitamin, and hormone levels.
In some cases, general practitioners will refer you to a mental health expert, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, if they dont feel equipped to properly manage your symptoms and conditions or if they suspect youre experiencing more than one condition.
Although depression and anxiety are two separate conditions, they share many of the same treatments. A combination of these may be used to treat both conditions at the same time.
Body Image Screening Test
A healthy body image is an integral part of our self-esteem and well-being. This two-in-one brief screening self-test looks at attitudes and behaviours you might have about your body shape and about your eating. While the screen can’t tell you if you have an eating disorderonly part of the spectrum of poor body imageit can help you reflect and give you a sense if you may benefit from extra support.
Do The Opposite Of What The Depression Voice Suggests
The negative, irrational voice in your head may talk you out of self-help. However, if you can learn to recognize it, you can learn to replace it. Use logic as a weapon. Address each thought individually as it occurs.
If you believe an event wont be fun or worth your time, say to yourself, You might be right, but itll be better than just sitting here another night. You may soon see the negative isnt always realistic.
A lengthy to-do list may be so weighty that youd rather do nothing. Instead of compiling a long list of tasks, consider setting one or two smaller goals.
- Dont clean the house take the trash out.
- Dont do all the laundry thats piled up just sort the piles by color.
- Dont clear out your entire email inbox just address any time-sensitive messages.
When youve done a small thing, set your eyes on another small thing, and then another. This way, you have a list of tangible achievements and not an untouched to-do list.
All goals are worthy of recognition, and all successes are worthy of celebration. When you achieve a goal, do your best to recognize it.
You may not feel like celebrating with a cake and confetti, but recognizing your own successes can be a very powerful weapon against depressions negative weight.
The memory of a job well-done may be especially powerful against negative talk and overgeneralization.
Focus on times when you feel the most disorganized or scattered.
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Risks Of Self Diagnosis
People who do not have the benefit of professional diagnosis and care run two risks when they try to diagnose and treat themselves using self-help methods:
- Risk of Misdiagnoses. The first risk is that they might miss something subtle but important about their problem or issues which would, in turn, cause them to misdiagnose themselves, possibly with disastrous results. For example, someone might think they have an anxiety condition of some sort, but closer professional examination might uncover an underlying serious medical problem such as an heart arrhythmia The affected person might treat themselves as though they have an uncomplicated anxiety problem and completely miss the fact that they have a serious medical condition that requires medical treatment. There is really no good way to reduce this type of risk except to go to a professional for a professional diagnosis.
It is never a good idea to take someone else’s pills, by the way, and never a good idea to treat a problem with street drugs! Weight loss pills can be habit forming, for one thing, and may lead to an addiction. They can also cause medical problems. Medication might be safe for another person, but actually dangerous for you! Do not use medication except under the supervision of a licensed physician or other appropriate health professional.
Who Has The Highest Rate Of Depression
Adult women have a higher rate of depression at any given point in time as compared to adult men . The age group that has the most adults who have had a major depressive episode in the past year is the 18 to 25 age group.4
Children and teenagers get depressed, too, but it can be tricky to diagnose, says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, Professor Emeritus of psychology and management at Union College and chief in the Division of Psychology at Ellis Hospital, both in Schenectady, New York. We know that between 2% and 6% of children experience depression, he says. About 14% of teenagers age 12 to 17 will experience one episode of major depression. And about 9% of teenagers report a major depressive episode in a given year.
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Or Spend Time With Loved Ones
Depression can tempt you to isolate yourself and withdraw from your friends and family, but face-to-face time can help wash away those tendencies.
If youre unable to spend time together in person, phone calls or video chats can also be helpful.
Try to remind yourself these people care about you. Resist the temptation to feel like youre a burden. You need the interaction and they likely do, too.
When you do the same thing day after day, you use the same parts of your brain. You can challenge your neurons and alter your brain chemistry by doing something entirely different.
Research also shows doing new things can improve your overall well-being and strengthen your social relationships.
To reap these benefits, consider trying a new sport, taking a creative class, or learning a new cooking technique.
Knock out a few birds with one stone spending time with other people and doing something new by volunteering and giving your time to someone or something else.
You may be used to receiving help from friends, but reaching out and providing help may actually improve your mental health more.
When you do something you love, or even when you find a new activity you enjoy, you may be able to boost your mental health more by taking time to be thankful for it.
Research shows gratitude can have lasting positive effects on your overall mental health.
Know That Today Isnt Indicative Of Tomorrow
Todays mood, emotions, or thoughts dont belong to tomorrow.
If you were unsuccessful at getting out of bed or accomplishing your goals today, remember that you havent lost tomorrows opportunity to try again.
Give yourself the grace to accept that while some days will be difficult, some days will also be great. Try to look forward to tomorrows fresh start.
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Anxiety Is Not Your Online Trend
While the difference between suffering from an anxiety disorder versus facing some anxiety on a day-to-day basis can be stark, there is no need to minimise the latters struggles. Even so, Im interested in how people who have actually been through the wringer with a diagnosed anxiety disorder feel about the proliferation of anxious people on the internet who use the same terminology to describe their problems and the obvious trend in using anxiety as a descriptor which holds connotations beyond nervous feelings. As a viral tweet from journalist and mental health campaigner Hattie Gladwell summed up: Anxiety disorder is not feeling nervous about a test. Please stop using mental illnesses to describe everyday emotions.
Of course all anxiety is not a nice feeling, but there are big differences between an actual anxiety disorder and feeling anxious, Hattie explains further over Twitter DMs. Many who arent diagnosed associate anxiousness with feeling nervous whereas people with an anxiety disorder can experience excessive worry, panic attacks, and other more debilitating physical symptoms. I feel we need to be more careful when using actual disorders are personality traits or general human emotion, because it takes the seriousness away from people who are genuinely suffering.
Dangers Of Self Diagnoses
Considering there are at least 10,000 diseases in the world, symptoms of one condition will often overlap the symptoms associated with dozens of other conditions. Although the internet is an excellent tool, it can often be more harmful than good especially when it comes to your physical and mental health.
There are currently more than 200 recognized forms of mental illness, ranging from depression to anxiety disorders and schizophrenia to PTSD, and when you turn to the internet for answers, you may head down a path that worsens your symptoms and overall quality of life.
The message here is do not diagnose yourself on the internet. Heres why.
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If Youre Up For It Go For A Walk Around The Block
Research suggests exercise can be an effective treatment for depression because its a natural mood booster and releases feel-good hormones. However, for some people, exercise or a gym can trigger anxiety and fear. If thats the case for you, look for more natural ways to move, such as walking around your neighborhood or looking for an online exercise video you can do at home.
Could Depression Be Part Of Another Mental Health Problem
Sometimes depression is a symptom of another mental health disorder. It is important to determine whether this is the case, provide an accurate diagnosis, and follow up with the best treatment plan. These mental health disorders can include:
Mild to severe bipolar mood disorders include high and low mood swings. The low mood swings look like depression. It is often difficult to determine if someone has bipolar disorder or depression.
This type of depression is related to hormonal changes in the body. These changes usually begin a week before a woman begins menstruation. Symptoms usually ease with a few days and go away after the completion of the cycle.
Other Depression Disorders
Depression can be caused by using recreational drugs, some prescribed medications, or alcohol.
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Treatment: Psychotherapy For Depression Symptoms
In essence, psychotherapy helps you get to the bottom of the depression symptoms, understand how depression affects your life, and cultivate healthy habits that will keep your depression at bay.
In general, experts believe therapy is an excellent treatment option for mild forms of depression, and most professionals specialize in depression or have experience working with people who are experiencing depression. When it comes to severe clinical depression, healthcare professionals recommend a psychiatric consultation followed by antidepressant medication to tackle the depression. This balance of treatment medications and therapy can help with the pain of depression while understanding the thoughts and feelings.
Aside from individual therapy, patients with depression can benefit greatly from family and couples therapy. Theres also group therapy for depression which brings together people who suffer from the same condition, creating a community that tests and provides mutual support for depression.
Think Outside The Brain
When giving themselves a depression or anxiety test, many people only check for mental and emotional symptoms like sadness and excessive worry. But mood disorders have many physical symptoms, too. Some potentially unexpected physical symptoms of depression include chronic pain, significant weight gain or loss, and change in appetite. One analysis showed that, in a primary care setting, a high percentage of those seeking treatment for depression only presented physical symptoms. Physical symptoms of anxiety range from upset or nervous stomach to chest pain, and chronic stress can cause headaches, weakness, and more. If youre experiencing seemingly inexplicable aches and pains or digestive distress, try to zoom out to determine if these physical symptoms could be related to your mental health.
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What Is The #1 Cause Of Depression
The number one cause of depression is the tough stuff, the major life events that go wrong, says Steven Hollon, PhD, of Brentwood, Tennessee, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University. Depression can occur when people experience adverse life events such as the death of someone close, the loss of a job, or some type of psychological trauma. Depression can lead to more stress and dysfunction, which can worsen the depression itself.
There also is a connection between depression and physical health. For instance, cardiovascular disease can lead to depression .4,5
Thankfully, there are effective treatments for depression. We know that depression is a very treatable condition and that over 80 percent of people who receive appropriate treatment for their depression will improve significantly, says Rudy Nydegger, PhD, Professor Emeritus of psychology and management at Union College and chief in the Division of Psychology at Ellis Hospital, both in Schenectady, New York. Unfortunately, the large majority of people with depression never get appropriate treatment.
What Is The Biggest Danger That Can Happen When Someone Tries To Self
One of the most dangerous risks when it comes to self-diagnosing a mental health condition is that the patient can mistake a serious physical condition for a mental disorder. Thyroid disorder and heart disease can mimic or produce depressive symptoms. When someone believes they have clinical depression based on a dubious self-diagnosis, they can miss an underlying heart condition, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and death.
Also, sometimes cancerous brain tumors can cause people to experience psychological symptoms. If someone assumes they have depression and begins to treat that and only that, a brain tumor can continue to grow until it is too late to reverse the course of the disease. The ultimate risk people face when self-diagnosing any mental health disorder, not just depression, is permanent disability and death.
Its true that some people may not want conventional medical treatment for depression. Many depressed patients can recover from their symptoms with therapy or deep brain stimulation techniques. But these patients may want conventional treatment for serious physical conditions like cancer or heart disease.
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Why Is A Misdiagnosis Dangerous
Patients who are misdiagnosed run the risk of trying medications or other therapies that can make their problem worse. Or they can waste precious time on a treatment that does nothing for them. Depression that is left untreated can become more and more severe. With severe depression, suicide is a risk, as well as psychosis which can be distressing and potentially dangerous.
Medications For Depression Treatment
Antidepressants are drugs used to treat depression and depressive symptoms. These medications can help the way the brain metabolizes chemicals that control mood or stress. There are many types of antidepressants. Doctors and patients should review all possible side effects and weigh the risks before prescribing any medications.
Doctors often begin treatment by prescribing an SSRI. These medicines are considered safer than other depression drugs. SSRIs also cause less side effects than other antidepressants. SSRIs your doctor may prescribe are:
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Meet Yourself Where You Are
Depression is common. It affects millions of people, including some in your life. You may not realize they face similar challenges, emotions, and obstacles.
Every day with this disorder is different. Its important to take your mental health seriously and accept that where you are right now isnt where youll always be.
The key to self-treatment for depression is to be open, accepting, and loving toward yourself and what youre going through.
Suicide Risks And Antidepressants
Most antidepressants are considered safe. Despite this, the Food and Drug Administration requires all antidepressants to carry a warning. This warns about increased suicide risks in younger people on antidepressants. In some cases, people below the age of 25 may have increased suicidal thoughts or behaviors when taking antidepressants. People of all ages should watch for worsening depression or unusual behavior. If suicidal thoughts happen, get emergency help or talk to a doctor.
Antidepressants are more likely to reduce the risk of suicide for the long-term by improving mood and stopping depressive symptoms. Like any other drug, doctors and patients must balance the benefits against the risks.
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What Treatment Should I Be Offered
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence writes guidance on what treatment doctors should offer you. But your doctor does not have to give you these treatments. And the treatments may not be available in your area.
Different treatments may be available in your area. Your doctor might think these suit your symptoms more than the recommended treatments.
NICE recommend that depression is treated in different steps depending on how severe the condition is for you. The steps are as follows.
Step 1: Everyone who may have depression
Your doctor should offer you:
- an assessment of your symptoms,
- support, such as regular appointments in person or by telephone,
- information on how to deal with your symptoms,
- monitoring of your symptoms and follow-up, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 2: Mild to moderate depression
Your doctor may offer you:
- low-intensity interventions, such as self-help guided by the doctor or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- physical activity programmes,
- group cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- medication if you have a history of moderate or severe depression, or you have had symptoms for a long time, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 3: Moderate to severe depression, or mild to moderate depression when other treatments havent worked
Your doctor may suggest:
Step 4: Severe and complex depression or if your life is at risk Your doctor may suggest: