Initial diagnosis of depression begins with physical examination of the patient. Even a primary care
doctor can complete the initial evaluation of the depression and prescribe antidepressant to the patient.
A Physical exam used commonly by psychiatrists for ruling out any physical cause for depression.
During the physical exam, a psychiatrist primarily focuses on nervous and hormonal systems.
Moreover, the psychiatrist will try to look for any major diseases that may present the symptoms of clinical depression.
Common medical conditions associated with depressive symptoms
- Hypothyroidism caused by an underactive thyroid gland
- Hyperthyroidism caused by an overactive thyroid
- Cushing’s disease caused by disorder of the adrenal gland.
- Central nervous system tumours
- Head trauma
- Multiple Sclerosis
Apart from various medical conditions there are certain medications that contribute to the depression symptoms.
- Corticosteroid medications such as prednisone (recommended in rheumatoid arthritis or asthma)
- Illegal steroids and amphetamines
- Over-the-counter appetite suppressants
What happens during a Physical Examination?
Get ready with the answers to all questions your doctor might ask you during physical examination.
You should inform your doctor about all the depression symptoms and any other physical symptoms.
Common questions asked by doctor
- What are the various symptoms felt by you?
- How severe are these symptoms?
- What are the triggers of these symptoms?
- Any particular timings or frequency of the symptoms?
- What relieves the symptoms?
- How long your symptoms have lasted?
- Any medical illness you have had?
- What are the various drugs or medications you are taking?
- Any family history of depression?
- Your hobbies or general life style?
As the question/answer session might take time, you may forget any useful information said by doctor or also miss out in providing any important detail. Thus, it is better idea to write down all the important points on a piece of paper and bring it with you while coming to see your doctor.
Apart from evaluating the symptoms and asking various questions your doctor might examines the various parts of your body to rule out the presence of any other disease that may cause depression symptoms.
Nervous System Examination: The symptoms of psychiatric disorders and neurological disorders are usually common; therefore doctors usually examine the nervous system of patients.
Your doctor may test the functioning of your nervous system, including assessment of movement, reflexes and muscle strength. Your doctor will check if you have any problems with walking or muscle weakness.
Thyroid Disorder Examination: Your doctor may also examine your neck to experience if thyroid gland is enlarged as thyroid disorders may lead to various mood problems.
Circulatory System Exam: Your doctor may also check your pulse and listen to your heart beats. In some cases, doctors may also check for swelling in your feet because depression may also result from underlying heart problems.
Rectal examination: As anaemia may cause loss of energy, your doctor may perform a rectal exam to evaluating any gastrointestinal bleeding.
Although most of these examinations are not directly related to the depression, however identifying and treating a physical problem may relieves the depression.