Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Depression diagnosis

Like many mental illnesses, a depression diagnosis is not so cut and dried. There is no test that “proves” you have depression the way there are strep tests for strep throat, for example.

However, meeting with a medical doctor and/or a mental health professional can be valuable for a number of reasons.

According to the Mayo Clinic6, there are generally four types of tests you can undergo when testing for depression:

Physical exam

While depression is a mental illness, it can be connected to a physical condition. Sometimes, it can even be linked to a physical condition you didn’t know you had. That’s why a physical exam can help with your depression diagnosis by either eliminating the possibility of an alternative condition or by uncovering a related ailment.

Lab tests

In conjunction with your physical exam, a doctor may perform laboratory tests7, such as a complete blood cell (CBC) count, vitamin B-12 test, electrolyte level test, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test, blood and urine toxicology screens, liver function test (LFT), and rapid plasma reagin (RPR) test. These tests can all be useful for eliminating medical conditions that mimic depression.

Psychiatric evaluation

In a psychiatric evaluation, you explore your symptoms through a frank, honest conversation with a mental health professional. Understanding the patterns of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior can help them get a clearer picture of your mental health and possible depression.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-58) is an assessment tool published by the American Psychiatric Association. It evaluates patients on a range of mental illnesses (not just depression). However, because there are conditions related to and overlapping with depression, it can be a useful tool to understand a patient’s holistic mental health.

Note that there is not just one “depression diagnosis.” While all types of depression can affect your feelings, thoughts, and ability to function, depression can manifest itself in a variety of ways.

Some of the most common forms of depression include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia
  • Substance or medication-induced depressive disorder
  • Depressive disorder due to another medical condition

As always, it’s best to consult a medical professional about your depression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1–800–273–8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

You may also reach out to the Samaritans: Call or text (877) 870-HOPE (4673).

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.