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In evaluating a patient suspected of having a form of depression, along with performing a physical exam and reviewing the patient's family and medical history, a physician may order blood or other types of tests. Due to the fact that there is no specific test that is capable of diagnosing depression, these tests are primarily used to rule out the possibility that the symptoms of depression are being caused by another medical illness. There are a few other illnesses that can mimic or cause the symptoms of depression that include some types of cancer and thyroid diseases. In some instances when the symptoms of depression are caused by another medical condition, treating the illness will alleviate these symptoms. Physical Testing done for Depression When a physician exams a patient that is showing common signs and symptoms of depression along with routine checking of vital signs - there are several other things of which he or she will look for. These include hormonal imbalances that are associated with depression and can be caused by certain medical conditions including the diseases of the thyroid - hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Cushing's syndrome is another medical condition that can cause a hormonal imbalance as it affects the adrenal glands causing the over production of cortisol. A physician may also focus on the central nervous system as damage to the central nervous system caused by disease, illness, or serious injury, can also cause the depression. Conditions of the central nervous system that may cause depression include syphilis, multiple sclerosis, stroke, tumors of the central nervous system, head traumas, and cancers of the pancreas, prostrate, or breast. Any medications a patient may be taking will also have to be evaluated for their potential in causing the depression. These drugs include corticosteroids that may have been prescribed for asthma or rheumatoid arthritis, over-the-counter diet pills or appetite suppressants as they can cause depression when withdrawing, and drugs that are illegal such as amphetamines, and steroids. Lab and Screening Tests that may be done to Rule out other Conditions A physician may order other forms of standard testing in order to rule out other underlying medical conditions that may cause depression. These tests may include specific blood tests for the presence of anemia, calcium and hormone levels. Other standard blood tests may be done to check for kidney and liver function, and electrolyte levels.


Other tests may also include an "EEG" or "electroencephalogram" that can record and monitor brain waves, CAT scan or MRI to check for the possibility of a tumor on the brain, or an "ECG" or "electrocardiogram" to check the heart for arrhythmia or a blockage. Screening tests that can be used to diagnose depression are used in combination with the physical testing. There are several screening tests in the form of questionnaires that have been proven to be very reliable in discovering the likelihood of depression. These tests include the "BDI" or "Beck Depression Inventory" that is a multiple choice questionnaire consisiting of twenty one questions related to the patient's severity of their symptoms and feelings of depression, the "CES-D" or "Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale" that is the patient's evaluation of their feelings and symptoms from the previous week, and the "Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale" that attempts to measure the severity of depression symptoms. In the majority of cases when utilizing a combination of these tests, a physician is able to rule out or make a reliable diagnosis of depression.

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Tests That May Be Used to Diagnose Depression.txt  

Conditions of the central nervous system that may cause depression include syphilis, multiple sclerosis, stroke, tumors of the central nervo...

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