Written by: Nur Fatihah bt Abdullah

What is depression screening?

A depression screening, also called a depression test, helps find out if you have depression. Depression is a common, though serious, illness. Everyone feels sad at times, but depression is different than normal sadness or grief. Depression can affect how you think, feel, and behave. Depression makes it hard to function at home and work. You may lose interest in activities you once enjoyed. Some people with depression feel worthless and are at risk for harming themselves.

There are different types of depression. The most common types are:

  • Major depression, which causes persistent feelings of sadness, anger, and/or frustration. Major depression lasts for several weeks or longer.
  • Persistent depressive disorder, which causes depressive symptoms that last two years or more.
  • Postpartum depression. Many new mothers feel sad, but postpartum depression causes extreme sadness and anxiety after childbirth. It can make it hard for mothers to care for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This form of depression usually happens in winter when there is less sunlight. Most people with SAD feel better in the spring and summer.
  • Psychotic depression occurs with psychosis, a more serious psychiatric disorder. Psychosis can cause people to lose touch with reality.
  • Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression. People with bipolar disorder have alternating episodes of mania (extreme highs or euphoria) and depression.

What is it used for?

A depression screening is used to help diagnose depression. Your primary care provider may give you a depression test if you are showing signs of depression. If the screening shows you have depression, you may need treatment from a mental health provider. A mental health provider is a health care professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health problems. If you are already seeing a mental health provider, you may get a depression test to help guide your treatment.

Why do I need depression screening?

You may need depression screening if you are showing signs of depression. Signs of depression include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in daily living and/or other activities, such as hobbies, sports, or sex
  • Anger, frustration, or irritability
  • Sleep problems: trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Restlessness
    • Trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Losing or gaining a lot of weight
  • One of the most serious signs of depression is thinking about or attempting suicide

Instruments used for depression

The PHQ-9 is one of the most common instruments used for depression screening. Although it can be used on its own as a screening test or to monitor treatment. The test takes two to five minutes to complete, and has demonstrated 61 percent sensitivity and 94 percent specificity for mood disorders in adults, and 89.5 percent sensitivity and 77.5 percent specificity in adolescents

Depression Treatment 

Depression can be treated with medicines, with counseling, or with both. Lifestyle changes can help. This includes a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and avoiding alcohol, drugs, and too much caffeine.

Depression usually can be treated through visits to your doctor. You may need in-hospital treatment if you have other medical conditions that could affect your treatment. Do remember, there is always help available from medical care provider, always seek for assistance from either pharmacist, medical doctor for depression information and advice.

References:

 

  1. American Psychiatric Association [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Psychiatric Association; c2018. What Is Depression? [cited 2018 Oct 1]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Depression [cited 2018 Oct 1]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/womens_health/depression85p01512
  3. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998– 2018. Depression (major depressive disorder): Symptoms and causes; 2018 Feb 3 [cited 2018 Oct 1]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007
  4. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Depression Screening: Topic Overview [updated 2017 Dec 7; cited 2018 Oct 1]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/special/depression-screening/aba5372.html
  5. Nease DE Jr, Maloin JM. Depression screening: a practical strategy. J Fam Pract. 2003;52(2):118–124.
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