A depression checklist is a quick and simple tool designed to help you identify depressive symptoms.

The symptoms of depression aren’t always obvious. In some cases, depression can show up as changes in appetite or sleep, feeling fatigued, or having a negative outlook on life.

Reading through a depression checklist is a quick and easy way to determine the severity of your condition and to help you decide if you should seek help from a mental health professional.

A depression checklist is a quick and easy self-assessment tool designed to help you recognize the symptoms of depression in your everyday life. The checklist can also be a starting point for a conversation with a doctor or mental health professional.

A depression checklist typically includes a list of common symptoms, such as feelings of sadness, low energy, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, and changes in appetite or sleep.

Some checklists may also include questions about the severity and frequency of symptoms, as well as questions about any other health conditions or life events that may be contributing to the symptoms.

Depression checklists vary, but most try to reflect the criteria for major depressive disorder as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition Text Revision (DSM-5-TR).

Here is a sample of the symptoms often seen in a depression checklist:

  • persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • decreased energy and fatigue
  • changes in appetite and weight
  • insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering things
  • physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems, or chronic pain
  • restlessness or irritability
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Common questions on a depression checklist

A depression checklist typically includes a series of questions that assess different symptoms of depression.

Here are some common questions that may appear on a depression checklist:

  1. Have you been feeling sad or down most of the time in the past 2 weeks?
  2. Have you lost interest or pleasure in things that you used to enjoy?
  3. Have you been feeling tired or lacking energy most days?
  4. Have you been eating more or less than usual?
  5. Have you been sleeping more or less than usual?
  6. Have you been having trouble concentrating or making decisions?
  7. Have you been feeling guilty, worthless, or hopeless?
  8. Have you been having physical symptoms such as headaches or digestive problems that aren’t explained by another medical condition?
  9. Have you been feeling irritable or restless most days?
  10. Have you been having thoughts of death or suicide?

You can find depression checklists in various places, including doctor’s offices, self-help books, mental health apps, or websites.

Some depression checklists provide only a symptom list, while others ask specific questions. Some checklists give the option to select an answer and will give you directions to tally up your score. Others, such as those found online, may calculate a depression score for you.

A depression checklist is not a diagnostic tool and cannot be used to give a formal diagnosis.

Rather, it’s a jump-off point to help you understand your condition and determine if you want to seek help from a mental health professional.

A depression diagnosis involves a comprehensive evaluation that takes into account your symptoms, medical history, and other relevant factors. Your doctor may use an evidence-based assessment to help screen you for depression.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, consider seeking help. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Talk with your doctor: Your doctor can help determine if you have depression and refer you to a mental health professional if needed.
  • Seek therapy: Talking with a therapist can help you challenge your negative thoughts, learn coping strategies, and improve your mood.
  • Consider medication: Many people find relief from their depressive symptoms with antidepressants. Evidence suggests they may be more effective with moderate to severe depression, rather than a mild case. Your doctor can work with you to determine if this is an appropriate option for you.
  • Connect with others: Spending time with friends and family, joining a support group, or volunteering can help you feel less isolated and improve your mood.
  • Practice self-care: It’s important to prioritize self-care when you’re living with depression. This may involve getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in physical activity.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs: Substance use can worsen symptoms of depression and make it more difficult to manage.
  • Be patient: It can take time to feel better, but with the right treatment, most people with depression can experience significant improvement.

A depression checklist can help you identify your symptoms and their severity.

Although a depression checklist isn’t a formal diagnosis, it can help you better articulate to a mental health professional or doctor what you’re experiencing to get the help you need.

With the right treatment and support, it’s possible to manage symptoms of depression and improve your quality of life.