Major Depressive Disorder

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Major Depressive Disorder Diagnosis

There are no specific tests used to diagnose depression. Your provider will likely begin to diagnose15 the disorder by asking about your signs and symptoms. They may also ask about your overall health and perform a physical exam, as depression can be linked to underlying health problems.

This exam may also include lab testing, including a blood test called a complete blood count or a test to determine whether your thyroid is functioning properly (an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, may cause symptoms similar to those of depression).

Your provider may also refer you to a specialist, such as a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist will ask about your signs, symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They will also likely consult the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association). This manual lists the specific criteria used to diagnose disorders like depression.

By definition16, major depression is diagnosed when a person persistently exhibits many of the signs and symptoms of depression for at least two weeks.

Many people fail to seek treatment for depression because of social stigma and negative societal attitudes towards mental health disorders. Some people may also feel that depression is their fault or worry about what others may think if they are diagnosed.

Furthermore, depression can impair a person’s ability to recognize that there is a problem. Because of this, it’s important that close friends and family members express concern and encourage loved ones to seek treatment.


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.

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