Depressive Disorders


What Does Testing for Depression Look Like?

Psychological testing for depressive disorders often includes interviewing, self-report measures, integration of an individual’s clinical history, and clinical observations.

Self-Report Measures

A variety of self-report measures exist. Some measures were constructed by selecting items which were endorsed by groups having a specific diagnosis or by groups experiencing specific symptom clusters. Others were constructed by relying on the definition of a specific mental health disorder and selecting items which fit the definition. It is important that an examiner selects appropriate measures for a specific individual in order to elicit information which will address the questions at hand.

Corroborating Self-Reported Information

As it can be helpful to understand depressive symptoms from a variety of perspectives, individuals may be given the opportunity to have a family member or other close associate provide information to complement their self-reported information. 

Ruling Out Other Disorders

As emotional symptoms can be tied to a number of conditions, it is important to understand that testing for depressive disorders should involve testing for other related conditions as well. Anxiety-related disorders, for instance, co-occur with depressive disorders at a higher frequency compared to a normal population. Also, depressive episodes make up a portion of the criteria for bipolar disorder and it is important that this condition is ruled out in evaluations.

Several personality disorders are linked to depression and these may represent underlying factors which can maintain the depressive symptoms or increase the occurrence of a depressive episode. In some evaluations, screening or testing for ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder may be appropriate. 

Accommodating Depression in the Evaluation

Since interviewing questions are designed to elicit information about the problematic symptoms, some individuals may experience negative reactions to questions about their mood, their stress, and their life experiences. When these negative reactions occur, breaks in the testing sessions can be provided in order to moderate this discomfort. Also, tasks in testing sessions are varied such that lengthy periods of distress are avoided. It is important to both keep the level of disclosure high and to engender a sense of persistence throughout the testing.  

Explore Related Topics:

What is Depression?
What is Persistent Depressive Disorder?
How can Depression be Treated?
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