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Video:How Is Clinical Depression Diagnosed?

with Gary Trosclair

In this About.com video, learn about how depression is diagnosed, and its various forms.See Transcript

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Transcript:How Is Clinical Depression Diagnosed?

Hi, I'm Gary Trosclair. I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City and Westchester County, New York. I'm also on the faculty of the Jung Institute of New York, where I teach clinical courses, and I supervise.

Today, I'm going to be talking for About.com about the diagnosis of clinical depression.

The Diagnosis of Depression

The diagnosis of depression usually takes place in an interview in an office or hospital. When conducting a formal diagnosis, a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker will ask a series of questions about your feelings, thinking, and behavior in order to see whether you have the symptoms that characterize depression. They'll also be trying to get a sense of which sort of depression you have, since there are actually different kinds. 

Different Types of Depression

The most severe form is called major depressive disorder, which can be a disabling condition characterized by several types of symptoms. These include an extremely depressed mood, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite, sleep, concentration and energy. People who have this form of depression might find it hard to get out of bed or to go to work. They might also have suicidal or distorted thoughts. 

Another form of depression is called dysthymia, which is a milder but enduring and pervasive form of depression characterized by low self-esteem, hopelessness, fatigue, and other symptoms. Sometimes the depression is a reaction to a specific and recent painful or discouraging life event. This type of depression is referred to as an adjustment disorder with depressed mood. 

If the patient has recently lost a loved one and is depressed about that loss, their condition may be described as bereavement. Between these broad categories there is overlap and lots of variation, depending upon the person who's experiencing the depression.

Diagnosis ideally uses an understanding of the common elements of depression to help you without overlooking individual differences. The formal types of diagnosis and diagnostic categories that I have described are less important than the professional's empathic, intuitive and direct experience of the patient. Some clinicians prefer to get a sense of you over the course of a number of sessions, and prefer not to use clinical terms such as the ones that I've listed. 

But, no matter how clinical or institutional the setting, being truly understood requires a good connection between professional and patient. Diagnosis is only a first step; if it's clear that you're depressed, you should consider getting treatment right away. 

That was a little information about the diagnosis of clinical depression. To learn more, please visit About.com. Thanks for watching.

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