A depression test is a questionnaire that some therapists and psychiatrists use as an aid in determining the level of depression in a patient. Clinicians may use this test on new patients or to monitor the progress of existing patients. The test is typically given in multiple-choice format and can be administered on a piece of paper or on a computer. The doctor or therapist will score the test when the patient is done to determine the range in which the patient falls. Based on the results, a doctor may choose to alter a patient's medication or increase or decrease the number of therapy sessions the patient attends each month.
There are many different types of questions on a typical depression test. Common question categories on a depression test include sections about fatigue, interest in activities, making decisions, mood and weight change. When a patient reads a question, he or she will have to select a level of feelings from a multiple-choice list. Choices typically range from "never" to "sometimes" to "always." Based on the answers, a trained clinician can use a score sheet to see if a patient is severely depressed, moderately depressed or not depressed at all.
Versions of the depression test exist online. If a person feels he or she is suffering from depression, it shouldn't hurt to take such an online test for personal use, but no one should self-diagnosis himself or herself based on an online depression test. A patient making an appointment with a therapist or a psychiatrist for the first time may want to print out the online test so the counselor can review the answers. This questionnaire may make a good conversation jumping-off point for the specialist and the new patient, but the specialist will likely want to administer his or her own test, too.
Trained professionals use a depression test as just one of many tools in making a diagnosis for a patient. It is important for patients to be honest with their doctors about how they are feeling and any new symptoms they are experiencing. Fighting depression can be a long-term battle and courses of treatment may need to be adjusted with time. When a psychiatrist prescribes an antidepressant medication, he or she may choose to raise or lower the patient's dose as time goes on. A patient should always take the amount of medication prescribed by a doctor and should never alter the dosage based solely on the results of a depression test.