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How Does a Depression Screening Work?

Mental Health
Author name: Lee Health

Note: National Depression Screening Day is Oct. 8. Please keep in mind that the day helps raise awareness of depression and other mental health challenges. It's never too late to get screened, watch for signs of depression, and reach out to your doctor or a behavioral health expert.

How do you know when you have cold? By the symptoms you’re having, right? Maybe a stuffy nose, nagging cough, sore throat, and so on.

If the cold doesn’t go away — now your chest and throat hurt — you’ll hopefully see your doctor for an ear, nose, and throat screening to see what’s going on.

The same approach holds true with your mental health. National Depression Screening Day on Oct. 8 reminds us of the importance of taking care of ourselves emotionally.

“Depression screens are like other health screenings we should get regularly,” says Jayme Hodges, a licensed clinical social worker and director of Behavioral Health at Lee Health. “They’re preventive health measures.  Like screenings for heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, depression screens provide a quick and easy way to spot the first signs of serious illness.”

Hodges says the screenings are not a diagnosis. The tests indicate the presence or absence of depressive symptoms and offer a referral for further evaluation, if needed.

They’re anonymous and confidential.

“Not everyone experiences depression in the same way, but it can affect anyone at any time,” Hodges says. “It’s especially important to check your emotional well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has introduced so much stress into all our lives.”

Who should get screened?

Hodges says that sadness is only a small part of depression.

“Different people have different symptoms,” she explains. “The key is to self-monitor or ask your family members and friends if they’ve noticed anything different about you, your mood and emotional state.”

You should see your doctor or a qualified mental health professional if you experience five or more of these common symptoms of depression for longer than two weeks or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your daily routine.

  • A persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
  • Sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Catch mental health problems early

In the U.S., the prevalence of depression has tripled more common among adults since COVID-19 began than before the pandemic, according to researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health.  

As a mental health illness, major depression is among the most common, affecting 6.7 percent (more than 16 million) of American adults each year, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health.

What are the different types of depression?

Common depression diagnoses include:

  • Major depression—having symptoms of depression most of the day, nearly every day for at least two weeks that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)—having symptoms of depression that last for at least two years. A person diagnosed with this form of depression may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms.
  • Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as:
    • Perinatal Depression: Women with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression).
    • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.
    • Psychotic Depression: This type of depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).


If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help quickly.

  • Call your or your loved one’s health professional.
  • Call 911 for emergency services.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); En EspaƱol 1-888-628-9454; TYY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889).

The Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Lifeline connects callers to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals. People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have hearing loss can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889.

  • Crisis Text Line. Text “HELLO” to 741741

The Crisis Text hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the U.S. The Crisis Text Line serves anyone, in any type of crisis, connecting them with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information.

Discover how important you are

Lee Health Behavioral Health Services – an outpatient facility -- provides friendly and compassionate psychiatric and counseling services along with plenty of other mental health resources.

We evaluate your condition, manage your medication, and implement a plan to help you feel better. You will find a trained therapist who is right for you – a caring and attentive person who will connect with you and empower you to tackle your problems. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 239-343-9180.