Am I Depressed? Take a Depression Test
Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States, affecting more than 17 million Americans each year. 1 Symptoms of depression extend far beyond feelings of sadness — many patients experience fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances, among others. The wide range of symptoms, social stigma, and mental health stereotypes can make it difficult for people with depression to identify their condition and seek help.
Mental health professionals use multiple methods to diagnose depression, from physical exams to checking symptoms against the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-5). One of the most common evaluations is the PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), which quantifies common symptoms and allows professionals to monitor their severity based on the DSM-5 criteria for depression.
While the only way to know if you have depression is to visit a doctor, self-evaluations are easy tools to help assess your depression risk. Take our at-home assessment to evaluate your symptoms and understand if you should seek help.
Take a PHQ-9 Depression Test
If your responses indicate that you have moderate to severe depression, speak to a mental health professional as soon as possible. If you received a score in the minimal to mild depression range, your risk for depression is low. However, you should seek professional help to receive an accurate diagnosis.
If you experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm, you should seek help immediately, regardless of your risk score.
Please note this tool is for self-evaluation purposes only. This test is not intended to replace a medical diagnosis. If you believe you have depression or another psychological condition, seek professional treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Although there are many types of depression, there are certain symptoms that are common across depressive disorders. These symptoms provide the foundation for depression self-evaluations and diagnostic processes used by mental health professionals.
For example, the PHQ-9 often asks questions such as “How often have you been bothered by feeling tired or having little energy?” and “How often have you caught yourself speaking or moving slower than usual?” to assess fatigue, which is a hallmark symptom of depression. The more severe the depression, the more frequently these symptoms tend to occur.
You may have depression if you have experienced at least some of the following symptoms nearly every day for at least two weeks:
- Feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Fluctuations in weight
- Irritability and agitation
- Decreased energy levels
- Restlessness and fidgeting
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
If you experience suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 to speak with a trained counselor and find help near you.
Types of Depression
While a self-evaluation can help you assess your potential symptoms, there are multiple types of depression you can experience. Identifying which type of depression you may experience can help you receive the right treatment for your symptoms.
Major Depressive Disorder
Major depression, or major depressive disorder, is one of the most common types of depression. Without treatment, people with this condition experience symptoms nearly every day, often for most of the day. Major depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, anxiety, and hopelessness, among other common symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is a type of depression that occurs when patients experience periods of mania alternating with depressive episodes. The episodes of depression have the same symptoms as major depressive disorder, while manic episodes may cause high energy, feelings of euphoria, and lead to self-destructive and risky behavior. Bipolar disorder is often referred to as manic depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs when patients experience depressive symptoms connected to specific seasons. For most SAD patients, depressive symptoms begin in late fall and worsen in the winter months. 2 Symptoms include withdrawal, oversleeping, and feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) occurs when patients experience depressive symptoms connected to specific seasons. For most SAD patients, depressive symptoms begin in late fall and worsen in the winter months. Symptoms include withdrawal, oversleeping, and feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Peripartum depression occurs either during pregnancy or within four weeks after giving birth. Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that affect brain chemistry, which contributes to the development of this condition. 3 Symptoms of peripartum depression can include sadness, anger, extreme worry about the newborn infant, difficulty caring for the newborn, and thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby.
Peripartum depression is often used interchangeably with postpartum depression, which is not entirely correct. Postpartum depression only occurs after childbirth, while peripartum depression can occur during pregnancy and after a child is born.
Sometimes, people with depression experience symptoms where they are disconnected from reality. Psychotic depression occurs when patients have depressive symptoms, but also experience symptoms of psychosis such as hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Patients may also experience physical symptoms, such as restlessness and slowed movement.
Depression and its symptoms can vary widely from patient to patient. If you believe you may have a depressive disorder, visit a mental health professional to receive an accurate diagnosis and develop a personalized treatment plan.
Treatments for Depression
Depression is a serious mental health condition that can worsen without professional treatment. Untreated depression can impact every area of your life, contributing to physical and psychological complications such as substance abuse, relationship difficulties, and social isolation.
Since this condition affects millions of people each year, there are many treatment options for depression. Different treatments work best for different patients and different types of depression, so it is important to speak with your doctor to determine which options are right for you.
Many types of antidepressants are available for people with depressive disorders. Your doctor can explain the options that are right for you and their potential side effects.
Some of the most common include:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Atypical antidepressants
- Tricyclic antidepressants
Finding the right medication for depression can take time. For example, doctors often prescribe SSRIs as the first course of treatment for depression, since they generally cause fewer severe side effects than other antidepressants.
Tricyclic antidepressants are effective for patients who do not respond to SSRIs, but often have severe side effects. Always speak to your doctor before starting a new medication or changing your prescription.
Regular therapy sessions are also effective at treating depression. During a talk therapy session, you will meet with a trained counselor to talk about your symptoms and issues related to your depression, including past experiences, internal thoughts, and behavioral patterns.
There are many types of therapy available to treat depression, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy. Through these sessions, you can gain valuable skills to process your symptoms, such as:
- Adjusting and responding to adverse events
- Practicing problem solving skills
- Identifying issues that contribute to depression
- Developing healthy coping mechanisms to replace contributing factors
- Exploring relationships and experiences that may contribute to depression
- Identifying negative self talk and replacing it with positive thoughts
Depression is a mental health condition that requires a great deal of self care. Prioritizing your health in all areas of your life can help relieve symptoms of depression and improve your outlook.
To improve depression through self-care, take these steps:
Continue to keep up with treatment. Attend your therapy sessions regularly and keep taking your medication, even if your symptoms improve. If you notice any issues with your treatment program, speak to your doctor immediately.
Make sure to sleep enough each night. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night, and sleep deprivation can exacerbate depressive symptoms.4 Set regular sleep and wake times, and if you believe your medication is contributing to sleep issues, talk to your doctor.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity promotes the production of endorphins, which can alleviate symptoms of depression.5 Start small with light exercises, such as stretching, walking around the block, or doing yoga. You can add longer and more intense activities once your body adjusts to your new routine.
Eat a healthy diet. Poor nutrition can contribute to many symptoms of depression, including fatigue.6 Aim to eat meals rich in fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates to nourish your mind and body.
Stay in touch with your loved ones. Social isolation may increase symptoms of depression, so prioritize connecting with people around you.7. Schedule regular times each week to talk on the phone or meet with your friends and family in person. If you have difficulty finding connections, try joining a club or group with people who have similar interests.
Sometimes, a patient does not respond to traditional depression treatment options, such as medication or talk therapy. Severe cases of depression often require additional treatment, such as specialized therapies and medical procedures.
Some of these treatment options include:
- Hospitalization: Sometimes, depression symptoms are so severe that they require a hospital stay. During an inpatient program at a hospital, you will participate in various therapies, speak with doctors, and receive treatment for your condition until you can control your symptoms.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): Brain chemical imbalances can contribute to depression. During ECT, a small dose of electricity is sent to your brain to alter its chemistry and relieve symptoms of depression.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): During this program, you will focus on problem-solving skills and coping strategies. This type of therapy is effective for people who struggle with chronic suicidal thoughts or self-harm.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a specialized procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain, relieving symptoms of depression. Doctors often perform this noninvasive procedure when patients do not respond to medication and talk therapy alone.
TMS is a painless procedure proven to be effective at treating severe depression.8 When you undergo TMS, your doctor will place an electromagnetic coil against your scalp, which will then deliver a magnetic pulse to your brain. The nerve cells in the targeted region are stimulated, and you may experience symptom relief and mood improvement.
You will need to attend a series of TMS treatments for the procedure to be effective, usually over the course of four to six weeks. Since this procedure is non-invasive, it does not require hospitalization or anesthesia, and you can go home after each session.
Receive Treatment for Your Depression
If you believe you have depression, you are not alone. Since depression is a common condition, experts have developed multiple treatment options to help patients deal with a wide range of symptoms, life experiences, and barriers. The only way to know how to treat your depression is to speak with your doctor.
If you believe you have depression, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional as soon as possible. Your doctor can evaluate your condition, determine which treatment options are right for you, and develop a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. Through this treatment, you can gain the skills and strategies you need to cope with difficult moments and restore your quality of life.
- Major Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml
- Seasonal Affective Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml
- Meltzer-Brody, S. (2011). New insights into perinatal depression: Pathogenesis and treatment during pregnancy and postpartum. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181972/
- Short MA, Louca M. Sleep deprivation leads to mood deficits in healthy adolescents. Sleep Med. 2015 Aug;16(8):987-93. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2015.03.007. Epub 2015 Apr 16. PMID: 26141007.
- Craft, L. L., & Perna, F. M. (2004). The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/
- Rao, T. S., Asha, M. R., Ramesh, B. N., & Rao, K. S. (2008, April). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/
- Santini Ivan, Ziggi, et al. Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation, and symptoms of depression and anxiety among older Americans (NSHAP): a longitudinal mediation analysis. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(19)30230-0
- Holtzheimer PE 3rd, McDonald WM, Mufti M, Kelley ME, Quinn S, Corso G, Epstein CM. Accelerated repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment-resistant depression. Depress Anxiety. 2010 Oct;27(10):960-3. doi: 10.1002/da.20731. PMID: 20734360; PMCID: PMC3020591.