What To Expect From Depression Questionnaires

Medically reviewed by Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC
Updated October 19, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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You may feel down or have little interest or pleasure in doing things from time to time. During these moments, it can be hard to know whether you're experiencing temporary sadness or feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. Psychologists have developed tools to aid in diagnosing depression, and one of these tools is a depression assessment. It may cover issues such as trouble falling or staying asleep, feeling tired, and having trouble concentrating on things like reading a newspaper or watching television. These questionnaires can help identify potential mental health concerns and guide you toward appropriate support or treatment.

Is It Depression?

Millions of people experience symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. If you're going through a tough time, you might wonder whether your feelings of sadness or emptiness will pass. You might also wonder whether you're experiencing depression or another mental heallh condition. 

Your doctor or therapist can be beneficial in getting an official diagnosis. However, if you want to research independently prior to seeking diagnosis or treatment, you might try taking a depression assessment.

Note that an online questionnaire is not a replacement for a diagnosis from a qualified professional. However, it might give you insight into whether the symptoms you’re feeling align with those of depression.  

What Is A Depression Assessment?

A depression assessment poses a series of questions often designed to help people determine whether they're going through an episode of depression. These types of questionnaires may be available online or provided by health insurance or through companies like Pfizer Inc. 

Your doctor or therapist may also use a version of a depression assessment to help them assess your situation and decide on a diagnosis. The Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders (PRIME MD) is a diagnostic tool developed to help primary care physicians identify and diagnose mental health disorders, including minor depressive disorders. Minor depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia or persistent depressive disorder, is a milder form of depression that lasts for a longer period, usually two years or more.

Although an online questionnaire you take on your own isn't intended to diagnose any conditions, taking one of these tests might assist you in your decision about whether you want to seek professional help.

The following problems and questions are ones that you might see on a depression assessment:

  • Have you lost interest or pleasure in doing things that you used to love recently? 
  • Are you experiencing less interest or pleasure in the things you typically enjoy lately?
  • Do you feel a sense of hopelessness?
  • Have you been more irritable a lot more than usual lately?
  • Do you have trouble falling asleep or sleeping at night?
  • Do you have problems staying asleep or sleeping too much?
  • Do you have a poor appetite or overeating?
  • Do you have little energy, or having you been feeling more tired than usual lately?
  • Have you thought you’d be better off dead or of hurting yourself?
  • Have you been feeling bad or upset for no apparent reason recently? 
  • Have you lost your sense of motivation?
  • Are you bothered by feelings of self-doubt?
  • Are you having trouble concentrating?
  • Have you been moving around a lot or feeling fidgety or restless recently? 
  • Do you have suicidal thoughts?

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, thoughts of being dead, or of hurting yourself, reach out for help by calling the 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline by dialing 988. This hotline is available 24/7. You can also text the number to receive support over messaging. 

At times, depression screening tools may ask you yes or no questions like those listed above. Other times, the questions might ask you to grade how you feel using a sliding scale or rate your feelings over half the days or nearly every day.

The questionnaire results could give you a better idea of your situation and the severity of your depression. If your results suggest that you might be depressed, you may wish to discuss your situation with a qualified medical professional and address any risk associated with your mental health.


Why Take A Depression Assessment?

You may find it challenging to realize that what you are experiencing is depression and not something else. You could recognize that you feel "off" or feeling bad but struggle to be able to pinpoint the cause. Additionally, you might be going through a busy period in your life where you haven't noticed how your situation or feelings may be impacting your mental or physical health.

Misconceptions about depression can also contribute to a person's difficulty in naming what is bothering them. These misconceptions can lead people to believe their situation is their fault and that it might go away if they think more positively or try harder.

However, depression isn't the fault of the people who experience it, and positive thinking or trying harder may not alleviate it. Depression is a mental health condition resulting from complex biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

A screening tool such as a questionnaire can help an individual recognize that depression may be what they are experiencing. It can feel healing to acknowledge that one's challenges stem from a medical condition rather than from a perceived character deficit or failure.

Treating Depression

Although a depression assessment might help you better understand what you are going through, taking an online depression screening isn't required to seek medical assistance if you think you might be depressed. Your doctor or therapist may have tools available to help them get to a diagnosis and give you advice about managing your condition.

There are several different methods for the treatment of depression, including psychotherapy and medication. One person might find that therapy works best for them, while another might find that medication works best. Some people find they do best with a combination of medication and psychotherapy treatment.

People who prefer natural remedies may find that there are herbal or other supplements that help them. Still, supplements may not be monitored or tested for either safety or effectiveness, depending on where you live, and some supplements may interact with other medications. 

Whether you're interested in medication, therapy, supplements, or some combination, you can discuss your options with your healthcare professional to find the best option for you.

Is It Depression?

A therapist can assist you in developing coping skills for managing symptoms of depression. They might help you establish a routine that can anchor your day and help you feel more in control. They might also encourage you to eat a healthy diet and avoid alcohol. 

Another activity that might alleviate symptoms of depression is exercise. Exercise can release endorphins in the brain that act as a natural antidepressant. 

Learning to set healthy boundaries may also help you feel more in control of your life as you manage your symptoms. You can work with your doctor or therapist to make a plan you can implement.

Reaching Out For Support 

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a widely accepted treatment that can help manage depression by guiding individuals toward a better understanding of the intrusive thoughts that often underlie their symptoms. For those who like the idea of therapy but don't wish to leave home, online therapy may be an option. 

Research shows that online therapy can be an effective treatment option for people experiencing depression. One study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders examined whether online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was effective in alleviating symptoms of depression. In the study, research from over 1,200 online therapy participants and found that symptoms of depression were significantly reduced after treatment for many patients. As a result, the study's authors concluded that online CBT could be highly effective for those living with depression

For those interested in pursuing digital therapy, platforms such as BetterHelp are available to connect patients with qualified, licensed therapists. These platforms often provide various communication options, including text message exchanges, to accommodate patients' preferences and make therapy more convenient.


It may feel difficult to tell whether what you are experiencing is depression or not. An online depression assessment might help you better understand what you are experiencing and make important decisions about your healthcare, especially if "people could have noticed" changes in your mood or behavior.

Seeking help for depression from a licensed healthcare professional can be an essential first step in improving your mood to better enjoy your life. Your doctor or therapist can give you tools to help you manage your symptoms, such as potential coping skills or medication.

If you’re ready to start getting support or want to gain professional insight about your symptoms, consider reaching out to a counselor or discussing your concerns with your family.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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