Medical Conditions that Can Behave Like Depression

Medical Conditions that Can Behave Like Depression

Anxiety disorders can result in depression-like-symptoms

It is a natural process to feel down sometimes. However, if that low mood lingers for multiple days it could signal depression. Major depression is categorized as an episode of sadness or apathy along with numerous other symptoms that last at least two consecutive weeks and is also severe enough to interrupt your daily life and activities. [1]

Certain medical, or even mental health disorders, can produce symptoms similar to those of depression. Before depression is diagnosed, it may be necessary to rule out other potential causes of the symptoms. These other disorders may also be present along with depression. [2]

Conditions that can Have Depression-Like Symptoms

If you are planning to make an appointment to see your doctor about depression, you might not be aware of the different kind of tests your doctor might order. It’s important to keep in mind that not every test is considered a “depression test” because some tests are not used to diagnose depression but rather to help rule out other serious medical conditions which may causes similar symptoms. Included in the following are some examples of other serious conditions that have depression-like symptoms:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance abuse or dependency
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Chronic illnesses

Typically, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask for specific lab tests to help ensure that your depression symptoms are not related to any other conditions, such as those listed above. If your symptoms are in fact related to another serious illness, treating that illness may also help ease your depression. Your doctor can usually tell if you are suffering from depression simply by asking you some specific questions and doing the physical exam. It is common, that your doctor may ask for lab tests to help rule out other possible diagnoses. Your doctor may do a blood test to check for other medical conditions that may cause depressive-like symptoms and check for things such as anemia, thyroid and vitamin D levels.

To determine a diagnosis and even check for possible related complications or symptoms, your doctor will likely perform a physical exam to help rule out any possible physical problems that could be the cause of your symptoms, lab tests to check your thyroid function as well as screen for drugs and alcohol, and a psychological evaluation to talk about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. It can be difficult sometimes to find out which mental health disorder or combination of conditions, are causing your symptoms. But taking the proper time and effort to get an accurate diagnosis can help determine the best course of treatment. The defining symptoms for each particular mental illness are detailed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which was published by the American Psychiatric Association. This particular manual is used by mental health providers to both diagnose mental health conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment received. [3]

Although the treatment processes are similar, each mental health condition has slightly different treatment approaches to help you work through your emotions, feelings, and to help you identify behavior patterns. Some conditions such as PTSD, which is when an individual has trouble coping during or even after a stressful life event, and anxiety disorders could have been caused by an event outside of your control.  Any medical condition, even chronic conditions, could cause an individual to look for alternative treatment options, including drug and alcohol use and abuse.

Because substance abuse can often mask the effects of a medical condition or cause them to be more severe, it can be difficult for a doctor to diagnose a condition, which is why they typically perform lab tests to help rule out substance use. Seeking treatment either for depression or another medical condition, can help you better understand your condition and your behaviors, possibly easing your stress and anxiety.

Drug Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know and love is struggling with an addiction along with depression-like symptoms and is unsure which course of treatment to seek, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our highly trained and knowledgeable counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your addiction questions as well as help guide you toward the best course of treatment. One call can drastically improve your life, so call us today!


[1] http://www.webmd.com/depression/ss/slideshow-depression-overview, Depression Overview Slideshow, Jospeh Goldberg, MD, 03/02/2016, 04/21/2014.

[2] http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/conditions-with-symptoms-similar-depression-in-children-and-teens-topic, Conditions With Symptoms Similar to Depression, Health Wise, 03/02/2016, 11/14/2014.

[3] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20033813, Tests and Diagnosis, Mayo Clinic Staff, 03/02/2016, 10/13/2015.

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