Depression Diagnosis & Treatment

At Mercy, we believe hope and healing is possible for those dealing with depression. Our goal is to help every patient get to a place of emotional wholeness and well-being.

Depression Diagnosis

Following a medical examination, your physician may refer you for further mental evaluation from a Mercy mental health professional. This evaluation is normally done by a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed mental health counselor. To diagnose depression, you and your mental health clinician will discuss your life and daily habits.

  • During this conversation, you should tell your clinician a little about your moods, behaviors and lifestyle habits like eating and sleeping.
  • Your clinician will ask you about any family history of depression or other mental illness.
  • Your mental health clinician may also use a series of standard written or online questionnaires to complete the evaluation.

After all the information has been collected and reviewed, your Mercy provider can diagnose any mental health issues that exist and determine the best treatment plan for your symptoms.

Depression Screening Online

Our online depression screening tool is designed to help identify if further psychological evaluation is needed. We recommend talking to your Mercy primary care physician about your symptoms to rule out if other medical conditions may be the cause.  

If you or a loved one is feeling depressed and experiencing thoughts of suicide, call 911 or go to a Mercy Emergency Department for immediate help.

Depression Treatment Options

Depression is a very treatable illness and is most often treated through a combination of therapy and medication. But there are many different types of treatment that can be used alone or alongside others. While not all treatments are available in all areas, Mercy offers a variety of services across its service area.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can help people with depressive disorders because it encourages open communication with the goal to discover and understand the situation and emotions that contributed to depression. Although each type of psychotherapy has a different approach, all of them involve talking to a therapist in a conversational setting. Specific psychotherapies shown to be effective at treating depression include:

Light therapy primarily treats seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The treatment involves exposure to artificial light sources as a supplemental therapy to a larger treatment plan that could include psychotherapy or medication.


Because SAD is typically caused by the low light of winter, light therapy can help make up for the lack of light you receive naturally. Light can affect the chemicals in your brain that control your mood and your sleep quality, therefore this type of therapy can be helpful for sleep issues as well as SAD.

Medications, coupled with psychotherapy, are effective for most people with depression. Your Mercy psychiatrist can prescribe medications to relieve your symptoms.


Many types of antidepressants are available. Your doctor or pharmacist can alert you to their benefits and potential side effects. It may be necessary to try several medications or a combination of medications before you find one that works.


This takes patience, as some medications need several weeks or more to take full effect and for side effects to go away. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking an antidepressant. Antidepressants aren't considered addictive, however, physical dependence (which is not the same as addiction) can occur. Stopping treatment abruptly or missing doses can cause withdrawal-like symptoms and may worsen depression. Work with your doctor to safely adjust your medications.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered highly effective for the treatment of major depression. It involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia. It’s typically administered by a team of medical professionals including a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist and a nurse or physician assistant. ECT is normally performed as an outpatient procedure.

Some people with depression also benefit from healing therapies known as complementary or integrative therapies. Natural treatment for depression is often used in tandem with standard medical care. Mercy’s integrative medicine focuses on your emotional and spiritual well-being through a variety of therapies including acupuncture, meditation and mindfulness.


At Mercy, we want to find the treatment you need to get you back to living a full and happy life. You don’t need to be in a crisis to seek help, and we’re always here to help with whatever you need. Your therapist can help you come up with ways to cope with depression and any other mental health issues you might be facing. 

How to Manage Depression

Even with medication and therapy, you might still experience some symptoms of recurring depression. This is especially true if you have a major depressive disorder, which is a condition that may return throughout your life. Below are ways to cope with depression long-term. Your Mercy therapist can also help you find ways to manage depression in a healthy way.

  • Join a support group
  • Schedule fun activities into your day, even if you don’t feel like it
  • Try to get 8 hours of sleep, which is not too much and not too little
  • Try to get exercise and sunlight daily
  • Know your triggers and develop a list of actions or activities that can quickly boost your mood

Depression Resources