*Disclaimer: This depression quiz was created by Dr. Stacey Lebowitz-Levy, a highly experienced psychologist with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and a PhD in stress and its relation to goals and emotions. The quiz is based on the DSM V diagnostic criteria for a Major Depressive Episode. Please remember that these results are not a diagnosis and if you in any way feel concerned for yourself and your well-being, you should speak to a certified therapist right away.
Life is incredibly complex and can be viewed as a continuous series of peaks and valleys. During some moments, we triumphantly reach a peak and feel as if we are on top of the world. Then, in the next moment and without warning, we slide off the peak and fall hard into a valley. Our personalities, coping mechanisms, and life experiences largely determine how far we plummet. When one becomes too entrenched in a valley and when the peaks are no longer visible, depression can result. Depression is a mental health condition that can significantly impair a person’s thinking, feeling, and behaving. Depression is a highly treatable condition, but must be detected and diagnosed before it can be treated. There are a variety of tests and diagnostic tools that can be utilized to assess for clinical depression.
Depression screening tools seek to identify and assess the frequency and severity of depressive symptoms. Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, a loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable, and a persistent lack of motivation. Depression can negatively impact a person’s health and may cause physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, and other aches and pains. Depression can modify an individual’s eating and sleeping habits and cause irritability, lack of concentration, and restlessness. People can display diminished energy levels, be easily fatigued, and can present with low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness. In severe cases, individuals may experience suicidal or homicidal thoughts to inflict harm on themselves or others.
Depression testing tools appoint subjective behaviors and feelings with objective numerical values. This is done to improve the accuracy and reliability of depression measurement tools. Some depression tests are readily available to the public, while others are copyright protected. Suicide risk must always be evaluated as part of any depression screening tool.
It is recommended that physicians screen their patients for depression during all routine visits. A physician or medical health practitioner will usually conduct a physical exam and laboratory testing to rule out medical causes for a person’s depressive symptoms. A doctor or mental health professional will then utilize depression screening tests, including questionnaires and inventories to gain a better understanding of a person’s mood, thoughts, behaviors, and overall functioning. These screening tests are invaluable, as they assist a practitioner in referral and accurate diagnosis. Once a diagnosis is obtained, an individualized treatment plan can be developed.
There are several depression screening tools that measure the occurrence and severity of depressive symptoms. Some of these tools are self-administered and based on a person’s self-report, while others are conducted in interview format by a physician or mental health practitioner. Self-administered screening tools have become a fast and dependable option as a first-line depression assessment. These quick screening tools can assist a practitioner to formulate a loose diagnosis and to prompt a more complete assessment. Tests may be organized in a multiple choice configuration or can be structured in a survey format.
Some common depression testing tools include:
- The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) is established from diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder and is a short, self-administered test. This tool is used to screen, diagnose, monitor, and gauge the severity of an individual’s depression. It measures the regularity of symptoms and the degree to which a person’s symptoms effect their overall functioning.
- The Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) is a tool that utilizes ratings to help an individual evaluate the incidence of their moods, feelings, and behaviors from the previous week. It is based on diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode and offers cutoff scores to identify people at risk for clinical depression.
- The Zung Self Rating Depression Scale is a self-administered survey that attempts to evaluate the severity of one’s depression. It measures the emotions, mental, and physical symptoms that coincide with depression. The Zung scale is comprised of positive and negative statements and scoring depicts various ranges of severity.
- The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is one of the most commonly used tools to assess for depression and has three versions. It is a self-report tool that measures attitudes and feelings of depression along with symptom severity. The instrument can effectively examine a person’s mood changes and assess for improvement and efficacy of various treatment methods.
- The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) is a multiple choice instrument that physicians utilize to assess the severity of a patient’s depression and to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment. It is useful for measuring an individual’s levels of depression before, during, and following treatment.
A definitive clinical diagnosis can only be made following a comprehensive interview that assesses for biological, psychological, and social factors. This type of evaluation is called a Biopsychosocial Assessment and examines the connection and interactions between biological, emotional, and environmental forces. During a complete clinical assessment, an individual will be questioned about their prenatal environment, early childhood development, and family history to assess for contributing genetic and biological factors. A psychological portion will examine destructive thought patterns, feelings, and behaviors, while an environmental segment will measure environmental, cultural, and social forces.
Sadness is a regular human emotion and is to be expected when difficult life events occur. Disappointment, remorse, and loss can culminate in considerable anguish and sorrow. Ordinary bouts of sadness are transitory and usually pass after a reasonable period of time. However, when feelings of sadness are persistent and merciless, it can be suggestive of a more significant problem. When a person transcends too deep into a valley and loses hope of ever reaching a peak again, depression results. There are various depression tests and screening tools that can be used to evaluate for a depression diagnosis. Quick assessment tools can be used for initial assessment, but conclusive diagnosis should never be made without a comprehensive and thorough interview.
If you or a loved one takes the following depression test and results indicate depression, you are encouraged to seek further help and support. Check out the listings of licensed mental health practitioners in our directory who can assist you with diagnosis and treatment so that you can leave the valleys behind and begin your ascent to the peaks.