What Is a Depression Evaluation?

Lainie Petersen

A depression evaluation is an assessment to determine whether a person is suffering from depression. The evaluation may be performed by a mental health professional, a physician, or someone in a helping profession, such as a clergy person or caseworker. In addition, self-evaluations for depression are also available online and in print publications. During a depression evaluation, an individual is asked whether he or she is experiencing common symptoms of depression and, if evaluated by a physician, may undergo a physical examination that could help determine whether there is a physical cause for the patient's symptoms. If the individual is found to be depressed, he or she may begin treatment or be directed to a mental health professional who can offer appropriate assistance.

A depression evaluation will ask about instances of uncontrolled crying and irritability.
A depression evaluation will ask about instances of uncontrolled crying and irritability.

It is not unusual for both children and adults to occasionally experience frustration, stress, and sadness. Although these feelings can often be unpleasant, they are typically not long-lasting and do not have a major negative effect on a person's ability to have positive relationships, earn a living, or generally function in life. There are situations, however, in which a person may become depressed, resulting in an impairment of his or her functioning. Many individuals have difficulty recovering from depression on their own and may need professional intervention to do so. A depression evaluation can help the individual or those who care for him or her to decide when it is a good idea to pursue professional mental health treatment.

People often have trouble recovering from depression on their own and may need professional intervention.
People often have trouble recovering from depression on their own and may need professional intervention.

The exact process of a depression evaluation will vary according to the assessment methods used as well as who is performing the evaluation. A medical doctor may examine a patient's overall physical health prior to referring a patient for depression treatment. The physician may check hormone levels and review any medications the patient is taking in order to rule out the possibility that hormones or pharmaceuticals are contributing to the patient's condition.

A depression evaluation can help an individual decide when it is a good idea to pursue professional mental health treatment.
A depression evaluation can help an individual decide when it is a good idea to pursue professional mental health treatment.

Once physical causes have been ruled out as a cause of emotional upset, a physician or mental health professional may ask an individual about his or her mental state and attitudes. Similar questions are typically included in self-evaluations for depression. Typical questions during a depression evaluation include inquiries about changes in sleep or eating patterns, whether the individual is deriving little or no pleasure from previously enjoyable activities, or whether he or she is experiencing mood disturbances, such as uncontrolled crying or irritability.

If the depression evaluation indicates that an individual is suffering from depression, he or she will generally be referred to treatment or may begin treatment with the mental health professional who performed the assessment. In cases where a person appears to be severely depressed or suicidal, he or she may be advised to go to the hospital for inpatient evaluation and treatment. In other cases, the individual may be advised to begin taking antidepressant drugs or enter psychotherapy. Frequently, both methods are combined in the treatment of depression.

A depression evaluation may be performed by a mental health professional or a physician.
A depression evaluation may be performed by a mental health professional or a physician.

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