A diagnosis is often important to get access to certain types of care and eventually to a reimbursement of certain medication. Based on this philosophy, several manuals have been made, which have described a depression diagnosis. The DSM describes a depression diagnosis as follows:

  • At least five of the depression symptoms must be present.
  • These symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
  • The symptoms should cause significant suffering in your life.
  • The depression symptoms may not be caused by a medical issue, grief, or an addiction. It is thus not possible to diagnose a depression if the symptoms are caused by the situations above.

According to the DSM, these are the guidelines with which we can recognize a depression diagnosis and make the actual diagnosis. To help you to understand what each of these guidelines entails exactly, we will describe each guideline and give examples.

Diagnosis depression? Symptoms present for at least two weeks?

A depression and its depression symptoms are not easy to solve. To speak of a depression diagnosis, it must seem like the symptoms and the somber feeling cannot be gotten rid of. Anything you do seems useless. As you can see in the part about depression of being down, there is a large difference between the two situations. If you feel down, this feeling will not consume you. If you are depressed, you cannot even enjoy fun moments anymore. You remain unhappy. It will consume you, too, because it has an influence on all aspects of your life.

WIth a depression diagnosis you no longer have the feeling that you can do anything to change the symptoms or your somber feeling. You want it to stop, but you do not know what to do. it can also be so that you no longer believe in your own capacities, meaning the depression symptoms will only worsen.

After a while you are then left with a negative, sad feeling. The depression will influence daily life more and more.

If you get a depression diagnosis, you will notice that depression is a sort of hinder in your life. You feel like you no longer can make your own choices. Your depression diagnosis makes it so that you often no longer have the energy to keep up your normal life. This will mean that you often feel abandoned or feel like you are under pressure.

Depression diagnosis? You suffer significantly?

According to the DSM one must speak of significant suffering before a depression diagnosis can be set. This means that the depression diagnosis needs to hinder your daily life in some way. You do not have the energy to lead the life which you used to, or which you want to lead. You will, for example, not have the energy anymore to do sports. in such moments you brain tells you that you need to rest. However, you will not be able to do that, because you will often start to worry.

Here we will give short examples of daily activities or activities you used to enjoy, which can be influenced by a depression diagnosis. The significant suffering could affect the following activities:

  • Working
  • Cooking
  • Buying groceries
  • Playing tennis
  • Having a drink with friends
  • Going to a family member's birthday
  • Going for a walk with your dog

If a depression diagnosis is at play, you often do not have the mental energy anymore to partake in the activities above.

To speak of significant suffering, the DSM states that this significant suffering must show itself in different aspects of life. Under such life aspects, the following are included:

  • Your job
  • Family life
  • Hobbies or spare time activities
  • Your school
  • Friends
  • Family

To speak of a depression diagnosis, your depression must influence more than one part of your life. For example, you can no longer do your hobbies and no longer want to attend family gatherings. You thus isolate and immobilize yourself, meaning you would rather just not do anything all day. Your body namely has the feeling that it is overworked, because you are constantly worrying.

Significant suffering with fewer than 5 depression symptoms?

Can you also experience significant suffering, without having a depression diagnosis where at least 5 symptoms need to be present? Definitely, as this is just a guideline as to when one can speak of a depression diagnosis. Just because you do not have all symptoms required for a depression diagnosis, does not mean that you are not suffering significantly.

Whether you decide, based on this article, to look for a depression diagnosis or not, you should also know that it is useful to find out to what extent you are significantly suffering. Previous guidelines are used to set a medical depression diagnosis, but they should not stop you from looking for help for your suffering. Even without an official depression diagnosis you can look for help and deal with your suffering.

In many modern therapy forms, whether or not a depression diagnosis has been set is not important. There are even types of therapy which only are based on what helps you, rather than whether or not you have gotten a depression diagnosis.

Depression diagnosis? Symptoms may not be accountable to medical issues, grief, or addiction?

The DSM handles this exclusivity rule of depression diagnosis to then be able to look for the causes of the depression symptoms. It namely is so that depression symptoms can occur in addiction, grief, or even when taking certain medication. Depression symptoms can, for example, occur in the following types of addictions:

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Cigarettes

Here, however, we do not speak of a depression diagnosis, because the symptoms of depression have a different initial cause than in a depression. A depression diagnosis, for example, cannot be set in a situation of grief, because depressed symptoms are a natural part of the grief process. In this case, one cannot officially set a depression diagnosis.

Physical causes, too, need to be excluded in a depression diagnosis, because the cause may not be looked for psychologically if it really is physical. WIth this, we mean that certain physical illnesses or medication can cause or simulate depression symptoms. In that case, treatment needs not be started for a depression diagnosis, but for the physical causes.

Is this difference important?

No. The DSM uses this differentiation to know when they are speaking of a depression diagnosis and when other causes are at play. This, however, should not influence your sense of taking action and motivation when contacting help. Just as with significant suffering, no depression diagnosis is needed to still treat the suffering and the symptoms.

Depression diagnosis: the depression test?

Would you like to know which exact symptoms of depression apply to you, and to what extent you experience a significant suffering? Then you can take our free depression test here, to learn more about what it is that you can do to handle your symptoms!