How is Depression Detected?

There’s no blood test, eye chart, brain scan, or any other quick way to tell if someone is depressed. Detecting depression is nuanced and difficult. Some people are screened when they visit their doctor, but even the most commonly-used scales for screening have their critics. Very often, friends and family recognize signs of depression in a loved one and convince them to find a therapist. But people who are depressed often put up a false front of happiness, and some personality types make depression especially hard to detect. Therapists are well-equipped to identify and address depression once they’re working with a client, but of course, recognizing the need for therapy at all is the hard part. Ultimately, there’s no one group of people who is responsible for identifying those in need of counseling. But the greater the awareness level of the general public, the more equipped we all will be when depression impacts ourselves or someone we know.


© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • marcus


    February 28th, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Just being in tune with your loved ones and their needs as well as your own goes a long way toward getting the right diagnosis.

  • Brandon


    February 28th, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    I think family and friends play a major role in suggesting to a person that they may need to see a therapist or counselor. Although a person would be aware of his sadness he or she may not think seeking help is really necessary. Then there is the element of shame that most of us feel to let out everything in front of another person!

  • Ruth Evangeline

    Ruth Evangeline

    March 1st, 2011 at 4:24 AM

    Depression is when an individual’s morale goes down,it is when his social life changes because he doesn’t feel like socializing just as much,it is when an individual goes about his work and life without enjoying it and in a manner of being programmed! This is my opinion and I am sure the experts here can add more to it.

  • Christine


    March 1st, 2011 at 5:38 AM

    It is important to know yourself and the way that you feel about things. I think that when I was depressed I was actually one of the first ones to recognize that something was going on because I did not feel at all like myself or the person that I wanted to be. Staying in bed all day has never been me, I am much more of a go getter but when depression hit me it was like my world came crashing to a halt. I think that others saw what was going on but it took longer to register because nothing had ever gotten me down like that before.

  • Pauline


    March 1st, 2011 at 8:19 AM

    When I was depressed, I felt ashamed about it so I hid it for a long time from family and workmates. It was only when it got to the point where I couldn’t mask it anymore and they started urging me to seek help for my depression that I did anything about it. A therapist’s job is not an easy one when it starts out on that foot!

  • Rosemary


    March 1st, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Because everyone is different,how can a single scale will work for the general population? Some people are very good at hiding their depression, and some people completely overreact and call a down day “depression” when it’s clearly not.

  • John


    March 1st, 2011 at 9:38 PM

    We make it hard to detect in ourselves too by choice because we put on a happy face. I didn’t like the idea of anyone but me knowing I was depressed. I didn’t even like admitting it to myself. It was crazy to do that but I was in total denial for over a year. That’s time lost now that I regret when I could have been in therapy.



    March 1st, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    Identifying depression is tough yes but then treating it can be very difficult at times. And treatment can become a tad bit easy if the exact reason for depression is known and family stands by the depressed person.

  • Ryan


    March 3rd, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Knowing how to read body language is important in noticing depression. That’s a skill everyone should learn unless for some reason they can’t. If you suffer from autism then it’s likely your diminished ability to read body language will be completely useless in spotting depression for example.

  • Philip


    March 4th, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    I feel that the power and depth of depression is severely underestimated by people who only have suffered from mild depression or not at all. If people were forced into treatment, there would be lawsuits about human rights issues and the ACLU would be forming a small army.

  • Francis


    March 4th, 2011 at 4:44 PM

    @Ruth, I think I read that monotony is a major cause of stress or depression somewhere. Your life is so repetitive you pretty much just shut down.

  • Gene


    March 4th, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    I know exactly what you mean. My life seems so stale at times, even eating becomes a huge chore for me. Which means I just throw something in the microwave and eat that, which is not a healthy way to live.

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