What Can I Learn From A Depression, Stress, And Anxiety Test?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jerry Crimmins, PsyD, LP
Updated May 16, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Depression, stress, and anxiety disorders can all have negative impacts on a person’s daily functioning as well as their overall health and well-being. Treatment and coping mechanisms are available for all three, and seeking out support early may result in better positive outcomes over the long term. That’s why being able to identify symptoms of each of these can be important. 

One way to better understand the signs of depression, stress, or anxiety and recognize whether you may be experiencing any is to take an online test designed for this purpose. While only a qualified healthcare provider can make a diagnosis of any mental health condition, these online tests can give you insight on whether it may be time to seek the support of such a professional. If you’re wondering how to take a stress, anxiety, and depression test, this article covers where to take these tests and what can be learned from them. 

Do you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety?

Anxiety and depression symptoms

First, let’s take a brief overview of depression, anxiety, and stress. Anxiety and stress can both be experienced as symptoms of depression, lead to depression, or occur as comorbid conditions or challenges alongside depression. However, note that anxiety, stress, and depression are not the same and often involve different types of treatment. Symptoms of all three can be mental and/or physical.

According to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) there are symptoms of all three that can overlap, but anxiety and depression are categorized as entirely different disorders—as are diagnosable stress disorders. Someone with anxiety, stress, and/or depression could experience some of the following similar or overlapping symptoms, potentially in addition to others unique to each condition:

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep

  • Eating more or less than usual

  • Persistent feelings of worry, helplessness, or hopelessness

  • Low/negative mood

  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed 

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Low self-esteem

  • Irritability

  • Low energy and fatigue

  • Substance misuse

  • Breathing difficulty

Mental health conditions can all have physical symptoms in addition to mental ones. For example, if you’ve experienced trembling, your hands are sweaty, you experienced breathing difficulty, or you had nervous tension or nervous energy, you may be stressed or anxious. You can take a stress test to determine the cause of your symptoms so that you may seek treatment. 

Free online depression, stress, and anxiety screening tests 

There are several free online quizzes that allow you to test anxiety or stress levels or help you identify potential signs of depression based on fundamental definitions and guidelines for each. An internet search will return a variety of tests for these sets of symptoms, which tend to not take much time to complete. Examples include:

  • The DASS test, which is designed to measure all three of these conditions at once to a basic degree or a good estimate. It can be taken for free online, but it’s recommended that you don’t do so in the absence of the physical or virtual presence of a healthcare provider.

  • The GAD-7 test, which is specifically designed to help identify a good part of the key symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder—one of the most common anxiety disorders today

  • The depression test offered by Mental Health America, which is a brief, informal questionnaire that can help you understand whether you may be experiencing signs of clinical depression in some form

Online quizzes like these are typically made up of questions that explore your current feelings, outlook, physical symptoms, and usual responses to life's stressors. On most of these tests, you’ll be asked to give your answers on a continuum to indicate how strongly you agree or disagree with a given statement. Many people may feel stressed at the idea of taking a test and fear that they will get the wrong answers. However, in mental health tests there are no right or wrong answers, but you can get the most accurate results by answering truthfully. Most of these tests include a scoring chart or calculate your test scores automatically. If there is a scoring chart, the website will usually instruct you on how to use it to calculate your overall score.

When taking these tests, keep in mind how you have been feeling for the past week, the past month, and the past several months or even years. If you felt sad or felt downhearted recently, for example, try to see if you can think of a reason why. Experiencing a traumatic event could be one possible cause of negative feelings and symptoms such as excessively rapid breathing, lost interest in previously enjoyed activities, or feeling pretty worthless. 

Again, remember that while online tests can be a helpful tool for identifying symptoms and encouraging you to seek professional support, only a therapist, psychiatrist, or doctor can provide you with a formal diagnosis and treatment of any mental health condition.


Formal psychological testing for depression, stress, anxiety, or another mental health condition

Free online tests like those described above are not intended to provide conclusive results or a diagnosis. For those who are looking for more official, clinical insight and advice related to the symptoms they may be experiencing, seeking out formal psychological testing could be a worthwhile next step. These tests tend to be accurate to a more considerable degree than online quizzes.

Licensed psychologists are trained to administer tests and assessments to provide an accurate diagnosis and implement a treatment plan.

A good part of the time, these psychological tests are not made available to the general public and can only be administered by individuals who have met 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 been found to be both valid and reliable for measuring a trait or identifying a disorder.

If you seek out a psychologist in order to undergo testing, they will also typically gather other information to help them properly evaluate your situation. This information could be gathered from an interview with you, medical records, and past psychiatric or medical evaluations. A psychologist may select a few different types of assessments in order to arrive at an appropriate diagnosis, if applicable, for a given individual.

Counselors, social workers, medical doctors, or government employees may provide referrals for psychological testing. One does not need to prepare for psychological testing in any way. The testing may take several hours or may occur over multiple days, depending on what the person is being screened for.

What can you learn from a stress, anxiety, and depression test?

Since free, online screenings aren’t guaranteed to be accurate and don’t provide a diagnosis or treatment advice, you may want to take the results with a grain of salt. If they indicate that you may be experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition even part of the time, it’s typically best to bring this information to a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist and have them conduct additional evaluations in order to properly assess your situation. If you meet with a licensed healthcare professional to get clinical psychological testing done, they will discuss the results and their recommended treatment plan with you after.

These online tests can be a way to better understand your symptoms in order to address them with a licensed professional, however. If you feel extreme anxiety at a trivial but unfamiliar task or other seemingly trivial things, or even felt terrified or that you tend to overreact to an unfamiliar task, you may be able to bring up these concerns with a therapist. Similarly, if you felt scared in public, feel that your heart is missing something, are unable to tolerate interruptions, feel stressed at traffic lights, and any other potential symptoms, a professional will be able to guide you to an accurate diagnosis of your condition.  

Do you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety?

Seeking therapy for mental health challenges

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, or another mental health condition or concern—whether you’ve taken a screening test or not—it can be helpful to meet with a mental health professional like a therapist. They can help identify the symptoms you’re living with and offer coping strategies and treatment advice. Coping strategies might include physical exertion or learning how to replace a negative feeling with a positive feeling, for example. 

If the prospect of meeting with a therapist in person seems intimidating or is inconvenient, you might consider online therapy instead. Online counseling platforms like BetterHelp have thousands of licensed therapists you can get matched with and then meet with via phone, video call, and/or in-app messaging, all from the comfort of home. Online therapy is also usually more affordable than traditional therapy without health insurance. Research suggests that digital therapy interventions can produce “meaningful improvements in depression and anxiety,” so this format may be worth exploring if it appeals to you.


An online depression, stress, and anxiety test may help you explore signs of mental health challenges as a preliminary screening. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s usually important to get evaluated by a licensed professional.
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