Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Depression facts
- What is a depressive disorder?
- What are myths about depression?
- What are the types of depression, and what are depression symptoms and signs?
- Depression symptoms and signs in men
- Depression symptoms and signs in women
- Depression symptoms and signs in teenagers
- Depression symptoms and signs in children
- What are the causes and risk factors of depression?
- Postpartum depression
- How is depression diagnosed?
- What treatments are available for depression?
- What is the general approach to treating depression?
- What about sexual dysfunction related to antidepressants?
- What about discontinuing antidepressants?
- What are complications of depression?
- What is the prognosis for depression?
- How can depression be prevented?
- What about self-help and home remedies?
- How can someone help a person who is depressed?
- Where can one seek help for depression?
- What is in the future for depression?
- Where can people find more information about depression?
- Depression FAQs
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
How is depression diagnosed?
People who wonder if they should talk to their health professional about whether or not they have depression may consider taking a depression quiz or self-test, which asks questions about depressive symptoms. In thinking about when to seek medical advice about depression, the sufferer can benefit from considering if the sadness lasts more than two weeks or so or if the way they are feeling significantly interferes with their ability to function at home, school, or work and in their relationships with others. The first step to obtaining appropriate treatment is accurate diagnosis, which requires a complete physical and psychological evaluation to determine whether the person may have a depressive illness, and if so, what type. As previously mentioned, the side effects of certain medications, as well as some medical conditions, can include symptoms of depression. Therefore, the examining physician should rule out (exclude) these possibilities through an interview, physical examination, and laboratory tests. Many primary care doctors use screening tools, symptoms tests, for depression, which are usually questionnaires that help identify people who have symptoms of depression and may need to receive a full mental health evaluation.
A thorough diagnostic evaluation includes a complete history of the patient's symptoms:
- When did the symptoms start?
- How long have they lasted?
- How severe are they?
- Have the symptoms occurred before, and if so, were they treated and what treatment was received?
The doctor usually asks about alcohol and drug use and whether the patient has had thoughts about death or suicide. Further, the history often includes questions about whether other family members have had a depressive illness, and if treated, what treatments they received and which were effective.
A diagnostic evaluation also includes a mental-status examination to determine if the patient's speech, thought pattern, or memory has been affected, as often happens in the case of a depressive or manic-depressive illness. As of today, there is no laboratory test, blood test, or X-ray that can diagnose a mental disorder. Even the powerful CT, MRI, SPECT, and PET scans, which can help diagnose other neurological disorders such as stroke or brain tumors, cannot detect the subtle and complex brain changes in psychiatric illness. However, these techniques are currently useful in research on mental health and perhaps in the future they will be useful for diagnosis as well.
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