Can Doctors Diagnose Depression?

Depression is a mental health condition in which you feel upset, hopeless, or do not have an interest in doing things and these feelings are constantly with you, it can affect your life completely and should be taken seriously and taken professional help. Doctors can diagnose depression by asking about your symptoms and feeling, any laboratory examination is not necessary for this condition, but can check that you don't have any physical reason. For proper diagnosis, it is important to communicate your condition properly, and recommended mental health experts or treatment according to your symptoms.1

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health condition described as a persistent feeling of sadness, lack of interest, not feeling motivated to do regular routine tasks,  difficulty in sleeping, food disorders, unable to concentrate, which later develops into suicidal thoughts. As per the data provided by WHO, it is one of the main causes affecting the workforce globally. About 280 million people suffer from depression of which 5% of them are adults. Women have a high tendency to develop depression in comparison with men.2

What are the causes of depression?

Depression does not develop  due to a singular reason, there are multiple  factors that play a significant role in the development, which include trauma, bad situations in life, family history, or any disease or medication.

  • Chemical Imbalance: Studies suggested that part of the brain hippocampus is seen as smaller in a patient suffering from clinical depression, which affects the production of neuron cells in the brain. This part of the brain is associated with the function of memory
  • Family History: A history of depression in the family increases the risk of developing it. Studies supported that genetic factors have a great impact and 178 genes are involved in developing depression
  • Hormonal Changes: In different stages of life like puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth;  changes occur in the hormones of the body, that is also responsible for depression
  • Stressful Event: It is one of the main causes of depression. Any stressful event, unpleasant circumstances, failure, or loss of a loved one affects mental health
  • Diseases: Conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, thyroid problems are more likely to develop  depression
  • Medications: Medicine that  are used to treat blood pressure, heart diseases, inflammatory disease, and sleeping disorders

Symptoms of having depression

Signs and symptoms of depression can be serious but vary in individuals according to the age group which impacts the lifestyle completely. These are the group of symptoms that are persistent and can reoccur. Different age groups people experience different types of symptoms.

  • Younger Children: In young children sensitivity is increased, they don't want to get involved in social gatherings, have low self-esteem, are unable to complete their tasks properly, and experience  headaches and stomach pain , which affects their performance in school. Overeating habits, sometimes loss of appetite, and underweight
  • Adult: Negative feelings, unable to counter their emotions, irritability, confusion, lack of concentration, not feeling motivated, negative thoughts about themselves, neglecting self-care, extremely sensitive, suicidal thoughts
  • Elder: Body pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, poor concentration, social withdrawal, wanting to stay at home, poor memory which is misunderstood with Alzheimer's disease, indecisiveness, loss of interest in everything, appetite change

With some similar symptoms, depression affects men and women differently

  • Men: the feeling of irritation, frustration, loss of self-control, lack of motivation, have difficulty solving problems in life and try to avoid those situations and hide from unpleasant realities
  • Women: Have feelings of guilt, doubting their self-worth, thinking of past failure, sudden crying, mood swings, insomnia, lack of control in anger, overeating, comforting themselves by food, panic disorders, anxiety,overthinking, self-blame, women also suffer from the postpartum depression after delivering their baby3

Can depression be diagnosed?

Yes, depression can be diagnosed by different methods including questions asked by doctors to know the cause and some physical examination if needed. Do some laboratory examination to evaluate the health of the body. After that check the mental health of the person with the help of a questionnaire and DSM-5 criteria that is given by the American Psychiatric Association.DSM-5 is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Who diagnoses depression?

Psychiatrists, Psychologists, or counsellors can diagnose clinical depression and other mental issues, it can be suggested by your general doctor or direct contact with them, but it is necessary to know the difference between them to get a better approach to the treatment.

  • Psychiatrists have a medical degree and have specialised in psychiatric studies. They are responsible for diagnosing the problem and prescribing and suggesting the treatment that is required
  • Psychologists completed education in  psychology, given therapy sessions and mental health programs but are not  involved in the prescription of medication
  • Counsellors have training in a certified program of counselling, and provide sessions of counselling individuals or the community based on the cause of depression4 

How to prevent depression

Depression can be prevented by applying different, effective methods:

  • Stress management is the most important, you need to control your senses, especially in an unwanted situation, and ask for help from your loved ones, or a practitioner of mental health
  • Lifestyle has a great impact on your mental health. Healthy and nutritious food, exercise, and activities that make you closer to nature are helpful
  • Proper sleep is also important to relax your mind and avoid any changes in the body that are caused by sleep disturbance


Medical Experts recommend treatment of depression according to the requirement by giving antidepressant medications, therapies, counselling, and lifestyle changes.

  • Medications: Antidepressants such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors(SNRIs), Tricyclic antidepressants, etc. Atypical antidepressants, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), etc. However, medication should be prescribed by a health care professional as per the mental health condition
  • Therapies: Psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STARD) that involve talking therapy, and other alternative therapies of brain stimulation such as Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT), etc

Home Healing

  • Exercise and Meditation help to boost your mood and reduce stress
  • Healthy diet and lifestyle, because a sound body has a sound mind
  • Use of Vitamins and Supplements that are good for brain function
  • Surround yourself with good company that helps you to keep motivated
  • Learn how to deal with your emotions, and talk to a counsellor and mental health experts5

Who to call if you are feeling symptoms of depression

Symptoms of depression should not be ignore, reach out to  your loved ones, and share your feelings, contact your counsellor and depression helplines.6


Depression can affect life completely, and people who are dealing with depression really need help to get out of that situation. It is important to counter your emotion by sharing feelings with friends or family, do not hesitate to take professional help from mental health experts that help to diagnose your problem and suggest individualised therapy.


  1. Höfler M, Wittchen HU. Why do primary care doctors diagnose depression when diagnostic criteria are not met? Int J Method Psychiat Res [Internet]. 2000 Aug [cited 2022 Oct 5];9(3):110–20. Available from:
  2. Depression [Internet]. [cited 2022 Oct 5]. Available from:
  3. Depression (Major depressive disorder) - Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2022 Oct 5]. Available from:
  4. Should you see a doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist for depression? [Internet]. Verywell Mind. [cited 2022 Oct 5]. Available from: Tiller JWG. Depression and anxiety. Med J Aust [Internet]. 2013 Oct 29 [cited 2022 Oct 5];199(6). Available from: Depression - What you need to know [Internet]. Depression and Anxiety. [cited 2022 Oct 5]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Fatima Zehra

M. Phil in Pharmacy, Hamdard University, Pakistan

Fatima is a Pharmacist and Freelance Medical Writer with working experience in Pharmaceutical,
Hospital and Community Sector. She is passionate to educate people about health care. She has a
great interest to communicate complex scientific information to general audience using her
experience and writing skill.

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