- They are often sad or irritable.
- They don’t want to do fun things like go out for ice cream.
- They eat more or less than usual.
- They are self-destructive and in trouble at school.
- They find it difficult to concentrate.
- They talk about feeling bad about themselves.
- They get frustrated or angry over little things, like spilling their water.
- They stop hanging out with their friends.
- They start to drink or use drugs.
- They find it difficult to make decisions.
We all remember being (naturally) in a bad mood when we were kids, but it’s important to watch out for really drastic behavioral changes in a child or adolescent, depending on Heidi L. Combs, MD, clinical psychiatrist and director of inpatient psychiatry at UW Health Harborview Hospital in Seattle. For example, maybe they don’t suddenly go out with friends, do their homework, or go to sports training. « These are all things that would start to make my sense that the person may be having difficulty, » Dr Combs told SELF.
How is major depressive disorder diagnosed?
Getting a formal diagnosis of depression is not always a straightforward process. You might notice some of the above signs and strike up a conversation with a primary care physician, who might agree that your symptoms are worth exploring further and encourage you to see a therapist. Or, you may already be in therapy and possibly be diagnosed after you’ve had a few sessions.
If you start with your family doctor, they may do lab tests to rule out other conditions that may mimic symptoms of depression, such as thyroid disorders and nutritional deficiencies, which can cause symptoms such as fatigue. , bad mood or irritability. They will also take a closer look at any medications you are taking to identify possible side effects.
If you see a licensed therapist, they will do a psychiatric assessment. It may sound intimidating, but you will just be asked about the thoughts and feelings you have had, as well as any patterns of behavior or changes you have noticed. (It’s also common to complete a questionnaire before your first appointment.) If you meet the DSM-5 criteria for clinical depression, your doctor or therapist will suggest a personalized depression treatment plan based on your goals and personal needs.
What does treatment for major depressive disorder look like?
According to Dr. Combs, there are many things you need to consider in determining what depression treatment looks like for you, including whether you’ve been depressed before, your medical history, and your personal symptoms.
In general, however, your path forward will likely include some form of therapy, medication, or both. In a 2014 meta-analysis of 92 psychotherapy studies published in the Affective Disorders Journal3, 62% of 6,937 people with clinical depression found that just taking therapy helped reduce their symptoms to the point of no longer meeting the criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression.