Am I depressed?

Talking with you about your symptoms is the most important tool a doctor, nurse or therapist can use to diagnose depression. We are used to specialized or expensive tests to make a diagnosis in other medical fields. However, most laboratory tests are not helpful in diagnosing depression.

A doctor, nurse or therapist needs to hear about your symptoms to correctly diagnose your depression and develop a treatment plan. A physical exam can show your overall health, but talking with your doctor or therapist can help them learn information specific to your illness. For example, information about changes in your sleep, mood, appetite or ability to concentrate can help with diagnosis and adjusting your treatment plan.

Patient Health Questionnaire

Feeling better is an important way to tell if your treatment is working. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) is one way to measure your improvement. It is called the PHQ-9 because the survey has nine questions. The PHQ-9 is a useful tool to rate your depression symptoms. You can repeat the survey at specific times to document how you feel. The questions in the survey help your doctor or therapist measure how well your treatment plan works.

The PHQ-9 also helps care providers and other organizations measure the quality of depression care in Minnesota and across the country. One important way to understand if depression treatment is working is to look at how many people with depression say they feel better after they start treatment. The PHQ-9 can help measure the changes in how patients say they feel. 

Tools You can use

Taking an active role in managing your depression and connecting with resources can help you get better, faster. These sections of Help and Healing explain how to use and understand the PHQ-9 survey in combination with a treatment plan and other supports.

You can view clinic ratings that show how well different providers care for people with depression. You can see what percentage of people said they felt better six months after starting therapy. You can also see what percentage of people continued to feel better 12 months after starting therapy.

Learn More: Take the PHQ-9