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Depression Test: Here's What to Expect

Kristin Hall, FNP

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 05/27/2021

Updated 05/28/2021

No one likes taking tests, but a test that can give you insight into what’s going on with your mental health can be extremely helpful. 

Suffering with depression, anxiety or any other mental health problems can be scary, and particularly scary to face alone. 

You may have lost all of your energy and motivation, your love of life and your desire to do anything but crawl under the covers and hide from the world. 

Having validation that there is something wrong with these feelings — and something that can be changed — is the first step in getting you back to your old self.

Depression Tests in A Nutshell

  • There are several widely used and accepted depression tests screening for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

  • Depression tests aim to measure the severity of depression criteria, indicating when to seek professional help or when progress has been made during treatment

  • Depression tests are usually a series of multiple-choice questions that can be completed quickly, in as few as 5 minutes

  • Depression tests may be self-administered

  • Depression tests do not take the place of a clinical diagnosis

online depression test

find out if depression treatment can help you feel better

Here is short online depression test free for you to screen your symptoms and get results that will help you take important steps toward feeling better.

After you’ve finished, you can talk with a hims online psychiatry provider who will discuss treatment plans with you. 

Clinical depression is a mood disorder, also sometimes referred to as major depressive disorder or MDD. 

It’s one of the most common forms of mental illness in the world, and is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, biological and psychological factors. 

This means it could be an issue of individual brain chemistry and a job loss or global pandemic that send you into a depressive state.

Some risk factors for depression, or things that could make you more likely to experience depression include: a family or personal history of depression, major life trauma or stressors, and certain illnesses and medications.

It’s believed depression affects some 5% of American adults. But as many as half of cases go undiagnosed and unrecognized. 

This indicates a good opportunity for the use of depression screening tests as a method of identifying otherwise undiagnosed depression.

Depression tests online aren’t the only type of depression screening tools. Medical and mental health professionals use depression tests, too. 

Referred to as depression assessment instruments, these serve several purposes: to help professionals get an overall sense of whether your experiences qualify for a depression diagnosis, to measure severity of symptoms, and to track changes overtime, while you’re undergoing treatment, for example. 

There are several of these diagnostic tests that are accepted as scientifically sound. 

The PHQ-9 is a self-administered test that is used to help mental health practitioners diagnose depression as well as monitor the severity of a patient's depression.

The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), for example, consists of 21 multiple choice questions and takes 10 minutes complete. 

The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) has patients rate 20 self-report items on a 4-point scale. 

These items are symptoms or common depressive experiences that the test-taker has encountered over the past week, and this test takes about 20-minutes. 

Other depression instruments include the EQ-5D, the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), and the Social Problem-Solving Inventory-Revised (SPSI-RTM). 

We tell you all of this to show that depression tests are common and can be extremely useful, even for the folks who diagnose depression for a living.

You can likely find numerous depression screening tools online, and if you’re like most folks, you may want to take a few in order to form some kind of consensus about what they tell you. 

But knowing which are worth taking and which are a waste of time can be tricky.

One way to recognize a scientifically sound depression test online is to look for one that is based off of the diagnostic criteria for depression. 

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) outlines the exact stipulations that must be met before a depression diagnosis is handed down. 

A test based on this book would include symptoms out of the DSM, along with a question about how long you’ve been experiencing them. 

The DSM-V says in order for a clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder, a person must have depressed mood or loss of interest in regular activities for at least two weeks, and exhibit at least five of the following symptoms, which affect daily social, work or other functioning.

Those symptoms include: 

  • Depressed mood lasting most of the day

  • Insomnia or sleeping too much 

  • Loss of interest in pleasure in most or all activities

  • Weight loss or gain

  • Fatigue

  • Agitation or slowed response time 

  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness 

  • Trouble concentrating and thinking, indecisiveness 

  • Thoughts of death

An online depression screening doesn’t have to list these verbatim, but the important thing is that it’s based on established diagnostic symptoms.

An online depression test may tell you with certainty that you’re suffering from depression, or it may tell you you’re not. 

Regardless of the outcome, it’s what you do with that information that stands to make a difference. 

Whether the test confirms your depression or causes you to second guess it: If you’re feeling depressed and think something’s not quite right with your mental or emotional health, reach out for help. 

No online test can take the place of a diagnosis. Largely because a diagnosis allows you to get treatment. 

Depression treatment may include medication and therapy, and you can generally start getting treatment right away. 

And you can receive this help from the comfort of home but scheduling an online psychiatry evaluation. Don’t wait for things to get worse before you get help. Take steps to turn things around. Living with depression is no way to live at all.

4 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center. (n.d.) Depression. Retrieved from
  2. Saver, B., et. al. (2007, Jan.) A qualitative study of depression in primary care: Missed opportunities for diagnosis and education. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 20(1): 28-35. Retrieved from
  3. American Psychological Association. (2019, Aug.) Depression Assessment Instruments. Retrieved from
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008) Managing depressive symptoms in substance abuse clients during early recovery. Treatment Improvement Protocol, Series No. 48. Retrieved from
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

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