Depression Diagnosis and Treatment

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that can have extreme impacts on a person’s day-to-day life. Learn more here.

The information presented on this page is an overview of the average evaluation of depression and is offered here as a resource. At J. Flowers Health Institute, our evaluations and treatment plans are customized and tailored to each individual’s needs. We specialize in providing a comprehensive team approach to your care. Our evaluations may include neuropsychological testing, dual diagnosis treatment, and a lifestyle assessment to help diagnose the root of your symptoms to provide the holistic care you deserve. 

If you would like to learn more about J. Flowers Health Institute, please do not hesitate to reach out.
We welcome any questions you have: 713.715.1618.

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What is Depression?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, major depressive disorder is “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.”1 There are multiple kinds of depression, and symptoms can vary among people.

Most people associate depression with sad or lonely feelings or losing interest in activities that one used to enjoy.1 Sadness can lead to serious issues and other medical troubles. It is important to not confuse depression with things such as grief or a general sad feeling in response to a situation.

There are also multiple different kinds of sadness. Each type could have similar side effects, but the causes could be very different. It is important to talk to your doctor specifically about the side effects that you are dealing with day in and day out. Read on to learn about the different variations of sadness.

Types of Depression

Major Depression

Major depressive disorder is the name given when a person struggles with depression most of the time. A person with major sadness will struggle with a loss of interest in activities, weight fluctuation, restlessness or sluggishness either mentally or physically, irregular sleep schedule and tendencies, a sense of being worthless or feeling guilty, suicidal thoughts or ideation, and difficulties with concentrating or making decisions.2

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder is when a person has depression that lasts longer than two years. A person that has persistent depressive disorder might experience abnormal sleep patterns, chronic fatigue, change in appetite, struggles with low self-esteem, difficulties with focusing or planning, or feelings of hopelessness.2 Normally, this kind of sadness is treated with medication and therapy. 

Manic Depression

Manic depression is another term for bipolar disorder. Manic depression occurs when a person goes through a range of emotional extremes, going from extreme highs to extreme lows. These extremes can last for long periods and normally do not fluctuate within the day.

When a person is going through a low episode, they will experience very similar symptoms to major depressive disorder.2 When they go through stages of mania, they might experience high amounts of energy and show signs of recklessness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that tends to correlate to a lack of sunlight, normally affecting people in the winter months. A person who struggles with seasonal depression will see an improvement in symptoms during the spring. The symptoms most reflect that of major depressive disorder. 2

Psychotic Depression

A person who struggles with psychotic depression will have things such as delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations on top of regular major sadness symptoms. Normally, doctors will prescribe multiple medications to combat this type of sadness. 2

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression

Postpartum depression occurs shortly after childbirth primarily in women but can happen in men as well (10%). Symptoms will normally occur within a few weeks or months after the child is born. Normally, doctors will treat this kind of sadness the same way they would treat major depressive disorder. 2

Situational Depression

Situational depression is not recognized by the APA officially. Situational depression occurs when a person is struggling when working through a traumatic or stressful event, which could range from grief to losing a job. It is sometimes called stress response syndrome. 2

Atypical Depression

Atypical depression is when positive news or an event can improve your mood for a short period. However, the person will still struggle with regular sadness symptoms most of the time. 

A person who struggles with atypical depression may experience symptoms such as sleeping more, being sensitive to critique or criticism, or having an increase in appetite. 2

Treatment-Resistant Depression

Nearly 33% of people who seek out treatment for depression try multiple different methods without finding one that works. This issue is what is known as treatment-resistant sadness.

When a person struggles with this, a doctor might suggest “less conventional treatment options” in the hope that something might work.2 It is not known why sadness in some people remains treatment-resistant, but other conditions can play a factor.

Risk Factors for Depression

There are many different risk factors for depression, and there can be a combination of environmental and biological factors that make someone more susceptible.


One of the most believed causes of depression is a chemical imbalance that impacts the neurotransmitters that regulate one’s mood. sadness may occur when a person has fewer neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.3

However, even though biochemistry is believed to have an impact, there is little data that proves it, and many researchers believe that it’s not the only factor. Hormone fluctuations can also have a big impact on rates of sadness, especially for women.3


Studies also show that “depression is approximately 40% determined by genetics.” If a person has a parent/grandparent that battles with depression, they are twice as likely to also get sadness.3

Scientists are not sure which specific gene or genes increase the risk for depression, but research is being done to isolate those genes to increase the effectiveness of treatments. It is a nature and nurture disorder, so it is important not to attribute sadness to one thing.


According to one study, neuroticism, extraversion, and conscientious personality traits are linked to higher rates of depression. Although there is more research needed, personality traits tend to show up in children very early on. Personality traits cannot predict if a person will struggle with depression, but they very much should be considered a risk factor.

Environmental Factors

Factors such as rough home life, poverty, poor working conditions, poor nutrition, drug usage, or even not getting enough sunlight can have an impact on whether someone develops depression. 


There is no one cause of sadness, but environmental factors play a significant role. Higher stress levels can also lead to sadness and anxiety .

Depression Diagnosis

Depression can be difficult to diagnose. Aspects like blood tests or scans cannot identify depression. Because of this difficulty, a diagnosis normally comes about after talking to a patient in depth over multiple sessions. 

How Does a Doctor Make a Depression Diagnosis?

It is recommended that doctors screen a patient for depression regularly. Normally, this screening is through a series of questions during the checking-in period. During these screenings, doctors will try to find specific signs of sadness that are listed in the DSM-5.6 

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms for depression can vary depending on the type and the person. Moreover, certain symptoms might be more prevalent for one person and less prevalent for another. 

Feeling Sad or Anxious

One of the most common symptoms of depression is a feeling of being sad or anxious. Many times, these issues can lead to a constant feeling of being tired or having a lack of energy. They go beyond a slight feeling of disappointment but tend to be chronic symptoms.7 

Feeling Hopeless, Worthless, and Pessimistic

People with sadness may struggle with losing hope, feeling worthless, or becoming pessimistic. Many people who struggle with depression might also experience suicidal thoughts or ideation, which is the extreme of these symptoms. Because of this issue, it is very important to seek help from a healthcare professional.7 

Angry Outbursts, Irritability, or Frustration

Another sign of depression is irritability at small things or frustration with others, oneself, and tasks. A person with depression might notice that they have outbursts towards roommates or family members, leading to further feelings of guilt or shame.7

Sleep Disturbances, Including Insomnia

A person struggling with depression might also struggle with inconsistent sleep patterns. Normally, this issue leads to waking up throughout the night or trouble falling asleep. In addition, it might lead to excessive fatigue and tiredness throughout the day, making it difficult to do things.7

Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Other Activities

The fatigue associated with depression can lead to a loss of interest in things that the person used to enjoy. One major sign that someone is struggling with depression is that they begin to avoid tasks that they previously liked to do consistently, including hobbies, sports, a job, or even sexual activities.7

Appetite or Weight Changes

Finally, a person might struggle with weight fluctuation and changes in appetite. For some people battling depression, they might experience a feeling like they do not want to eat, which can lead to weight loss.

For others, this disorder might lead to issues such as binge eating or eating an excess of calories each day, leading to weight gain.7 If you or a loved one are experiencing several of these symptoms, please reach out to a healthcare professional.

Misdiagnosis of Depression

Due to several factors, there is always a chance of accidentally being misdiagnosed with depression. Depression is one of the most difficult medical issues to diagnose because there is no consistent test, and the symptoms overlap with several other mental health disorders.

Because of this issue, it is very important to take every precaution and try to be as honest as possible when speaking with a healthcare provider about your symptoms.8 

How Often Do Doctors Make Mistakes?

Misdiagnoses are infrequent today since symptoms normally present themselves at the same time. Just in case, it is wise to get a second opinion to make sure that you are treating the right thing. 

Other undiagnosed health issues can also cause depression or present similar symptoms, so extra testing to rule out other possible factors is a good idea.8 

Symptoms That Overlap With Other Mental Illnesses

With many mental health disorders, there are overlapping symptoms that can make diagnosis challenging. One study found there are even similar genetic variations among five of the most major mental health disorders.9 

Some of these symptoms include fatigue, anxious feelings, irritability, a loss of interest in things a person used to like, and feelings of hopelessness.

Consequences of Misdiagnosis

When a doctor misdiagnoses a patient, it prevents the patient from receiving the help and care they need to battle the mental health disorder.

Misdiagnosis can lead to symptoms growing worse over time. Moreover, it can impede a person’s ability to function in their day-to-day life, contributing to feelings of hopelessness and leading to greater senses of pessimism.

How to Avoid Misdiagnosis

One of the best ways to avoid misdiagnosis is by getting a second opinion. Doing thorough testing to rule out other factors and exploring your family’s history with depression are two other steps that can help in narrowing down the issue.

Because many mental health issues overlap with one another, it is crucial to be as honest as possible when speaking to your doctor. One of the best ways to do this is by giving concrete examples of what you are feeling/experiencing throughout your day.

Treatment for Depression

There are several different treatments for depression, and it is best to work with your primary healthcare physician to find what will work best for you. Normally, doctors will use a combination of medication and therapy to treat depression, but there are some alternate plans, too.


There are multiple kinds of medications that can be used to treat depression. The main ones used are antidepressants, but there are other types of medications.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors work by increasing the serotonin levels in one’s brain to balance out their emotions and ward off symptoms of depression.10 These are the most common anti-depressants. 

Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

The second kind of depression medication is serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. SNRIs increase serotonin and norepinephrine inside of your brain.10 

Tricyclic and Tetracyclic Antidepressants

Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants also increase serotonin and norepinephrine inside of your brain. These are not as commonly prescribed because they can cause more side effects than the previous two. 10  

Atypical Antidepressants

Other types of drugs may help treat depression. NDRIs are used to increase dopamine levels. MAOIs increase the levels of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and tyramine. NMDA antagonists are also used to increase glutamate within the brain.

All of these have their specific purposes, but they are atypical antidepressants that you won’t see prescribed as often.10 


Psychotherapy is a great tool for treating depression. Psychotherapy is a form of therapy where the patient talks to a therapist to learn how to handle their disorder through healthy coping mechanisms.10  Many times, doctors will prescribe medication alongside psychotherapy.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Another type of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is where the therapist will help the patient identify unhealthy behaviors and thought patterns.

They will then help teach the patient how to replace the negative thoughts and behaviors with more positive ones. CBT is also great at teaching coping mechanisms and stress relief.10 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy focuses on the validation of emotion. Many times, therapists will help the patient accept uncomfortable behaviors, feelings, or thoughts instead of trying to get rid of them. The goal is to eventually accept them to allow change to happen and to make a recovery plan.10 

Psychodynamic Therapy

The goal of psychodynamic therapy is to help a person cope with everyday life. This kind of therapy is built on a foundation that how we behave today is based on experiences we had in our childhood. 

Psychodynamic therapy focuses heavily on trying to examine experiences from your childhood so that you can better handle life.10 

Light Therapy

During light therapy, a person will be exposed to white light to try and regulate their emotions. Light therapy is used consistently with seasonal depression. This is normally a temporary treatment or one that is used only at specific times.

Alternative Therapies

Some people will choose different methods to try and help with their depression, which can go alongside regular therapy and medication.


This may include:

  • Meditation: Meditation has been proven to help with the symptoms caused by sadness. By practicing meditation, a person can rewire their brain to better respond to certain triggers such as anxiety and stress.
  • AcupunctureAnother alternate treatment plan is acupuncture. It can ease some symptoms of sadness. Some studies have shown that it can help alongside other treatments. 

J. Flowers Health Institute's Comprehensive Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment

Our team at J. Flowers Health Institute aims to address all facets of any disorder that someone is struggling with. We take a holistic, whole-person approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Depression Diagnosis

At J. Flowers Health Institute, we ensure that each client receives a thorough examination through our Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation Program. 

Not only can this type of testing rule out other causes, but it can find co-existing conditions that could be impacting a person’s depression.

Modern, Innovative Medical Services for Treatment

One unique way that J. Flowers Health Institute sets itself apart from the rest of the healthcare field is by giving bespoke medical services for treatment. 

When a person utilizes our cutting-edge medical services, they receive physician access 24/7, guaranteed same-day appointments, and personalized care that focuses on all aspects of their health.

Benefits of Medical Services

Our services take away wait times and allow medical professionals to give personalized attention to your specific case. 

Another benefit of our top-of-the-line medical services for someone who might be struggling with depression is that they have access to their doctor 24/7. A patient can update their doctor on symptoms or other issues that might be occurring.

Why You Need Comprehensive Care For Depression

A person battling symptoms of depression would benefit from our bespoke care because it allows them to receive quick access to a doctor who personally knows what they are dealing with. One significant benefit is the decrease in suicide and self-harm.

Because a person can reach out right away for care, it provides them a place to go when they are battling suicidal ideation. Moreover, due to the varying symptoms of sadness, it is necessary to find a solution that allows the doctor to care specifically for the patient. 

For more information, reach out to our team at J. Flowers Health Institute. We’re here to help you heal.