How is depression diagnosed?

Your doctor can make a diagnosis of depression by talking to you and asking you questions about your symptoms.

Depression is usually diagnosed if you have:

  • low mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
Plus at least four of these symptoms:
  • a change in your weight or appetite (an increase or a decrease)
  • insomnia, or sleeping more
  • feeling very restless or slowed down
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • problems concentrating or making decisions
  • recurring thoughts of death, or thinking about or attempting suicide.

For depression to be diagnosed, these symptoms must:

  • have been present most days in the past 2 weeks
  • be a change from your usual state and affect your ability to function normally
  • not be a symptom of another medical or psychological illness.

This is the formal definition; however, your doctor will also use their clinical judgement to decide if you are depressed.

Do you need a mood check-up? Take the quiz

Over the past two weeks, have you felt consistently:

Down, depressed or hopeless?

Yes             No

Little interest or pleasure in doing things you used to enjoy?

Yes             No

This doesn't necessarily mean you are depressed but it does show you need to be checked out. Go and talk to your general practitioner (GP) and tell them how you've been feeling. If you feel life is not worth living, call Lifeline (13 11 14) or the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467).

Great! It sounds like you're OK, but if you are worried about your mental health for any other reason, talk to your GP.

For more information