There are many reasons to consider taking a test to measure symptoms of anxiety or depression. You may be unsure about whether or not your symptoms are serious or you would like a formal diagnosis. Depending upon your symptoms, the severity of symptoms, as well as the cluster of symptoms you have, you may be attempting to cope with or treat your symptoms in a manner that is counter-productive. For example, an individual with a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder may have some overlapping symptoms with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, just as an individual with Major Depressive Disorder might have some overlapping symptoms of an individual with Bipolar Disorder II. However, each diagnosis is treated using different techniques, medication, and treatment modalities. This is one reason why it is so important to have an accurate understanding of symptoms and an accurate diagnosis. Obtaining a diagnosis involves more than simply taking a test, but a formal diagnosis can only be provided by a licensed counselor, social worker, psychiatrist, or doctor.
Purpose of Online Depression, Stress, and Anxiety Screening Tests
There are several free online tests, but these tests should only be considered as screening tools and may not provide accurate diagnoses. It is recommended that many of these tests be completed with your mental health provider. There are several different tests available, some of which are available through the Society of Clinical Psychology. One test is called the DASS test, which is used to measure the negative emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. The DASS tests consist of 42 questions, where answers are provided on a continuum of agreement or disagreement. The test can be administered by non-psychologists. Other tests specifically measure anxiety are the GAD-7 test, which has been a screening tool for the most common diagnosis, Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The PHQ-9 test has been designed to measure depressive symptoms.
Psychology Today also offers a mental health assessment that takes between 15-20 minutes to complete, provides a tentative diagnosis, as well as symptoms detected. The test screens for issues related to stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, bipolar, mania, trauma, panic attacks, and substance abuse issues. The results can be shared with your therapist, but a therapist will also collect other kinds of information and use their own observations to determine an accurate diagnosis, which can take time. Another online mental health test that specifically measures depression, stress, and anxiety, which is made up of 42 questions and rates symptoms on a scale from normal to severe. The SPIN test is made up of 17 questions and measures social anxiety. The organization Mental Health America also provides screening tools for depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, psychosis, eating disorders, addiction, and parenting.
Many online psychological tests typically are comprised of questions that explore your current feelings, outlook, physical symptoms, and responses to life's stressors. On most of these tests, your answers will be on a continuum indicating how strongly you agree or disagree with a statement. Most of these tests include a scoring chart or calculate your scores automatically. If there is a scoring chart, the website will instruct you on how to calculate the overall score. Again, while online tests can be a good tool for screening purposes, only a therapist, psychiatrist, or doctor can provide you with a formal diagnosis.
What is Formal Psychological Testing?
If you have struggled to find an accurate diagnosis, have not seen a reduction in symptoms after at least 6-8 weeks of counseling, or are having trouble functioning, you might consider undergoing psychological testing or assessment. Licensed psychologists are thoroughly trained to administer tests and use both tests and assessments to provide an accurate diagnosis and implement a treatment plan. Many psychological tests are not made available to the general public and can only be administered by individuals who meet specific educational and professional qualifications. These tests have been developed as a standard and are norm-referenced, which means that they have been evaluated by researchers and are both valid and reliable for measuring a trait or identifying a disorder. A psychologist will also typically gather information in addition to testing, such as interviews, medical records, psychiatric or medical evaluations, and clinical interviews. When psychologists administer tests, they usually select different types of assessments and tests for each individual client in order to consider the appropriate diagnosis.
A test administered by a psychologist might be appropriate if you are having trouble functioning in school, work, think you may have a learning disability, emotional, or behavioral problems. Counselors, social workers, medical doctors, or government employees may provide referrals psychological testing. One does not need to prepare for psychological testing, and the testing may take place over several hours or several days.
What Can I Learn from Online Psychological Screening & Testing?
After reviewing your results from an online mental health test, please keep in mind that your results do not provide you with an official diagnosis. The results may indicate the severity of your symptoms and indicate whether or not a mental health diagnosis is likely. The test may provide you with several potential diagnoses, rather than just one. As stated earlier, there are often overlapping symptoms and speaking with a mental health professional can help you find an accurate diagnosis. Regardless, it is important to share these results with your counselor, psychiatrist, or doctor. If you are also suffering from health issues, consult with a medical doctor to rule out any physical causes of the symptoms you are experiencing.
These tests might also indicate whether or not your symptoms are severe enough that it is urgent for you to seek out professional help. These kinds of tests might also help you identify where you are currently struggling, problems with coping, or challenges you are facing. If you wish to seek out a therapist, try to choose to work with a therapist that seems like a good fit for you. It is important for you to feel that you will be able to trust your therapist. Be sure to ask questions during your first session. A good starting place is to ask about the therapist's experience, background, personal philosophy, treatment modalities, or any other questions that are important to you. If you feel that your therapist is not a good fit, you can always terminate and find another therapist.
If you answer the questions honestly and receive a score that indicates you don't have a problem with stress, depression, or anxiety, you may feel a sense of relief. However, if you feel you may be suffering from mental health problems, you should always seek help rather than relying on the test alone. While tests can be helpful tools, it's best to reach out to a professional and ask for another opinion.