A quick depression screening questionnaire

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Could you be clinically depressed? Here’s a simple depression screening questionnaire some mental health caregivers use to screen patients, and give you some insight about what you might want to talk to a professional about.

The PHQ-9 — a 9-question Patient Health Questionnaire — was developed for a 1999 study which was co-authored by one of the authors of the new study, Kurt Kroenke, MD, IU School of Medicine professor of medicine and a Regenstrief Institute research scientist, to screen primary care patients for depression. It is now increasingly used by psychiatrists.

“The PHQ-9 has become an easy to administer, validated means of quantifying the patient’s symptoms,” and is what Dr Kroenke calls “a sort of a blood pressure cuff for depression.”

Are you depressed? A checklist
Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems?

Rate each from 0 (lowest) to 3 (most) with this scale:

1: Not at all
2: Several days
3: More than half the days
4: Nearly every day

The depression screening questions

1. Little interest or pleasure in doing things:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

2. Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

3. Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

4. Feeling tired or having little energy:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

5. Poor appetite or overeating:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

6. Feeling bad about yourself — or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

7. Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

8. Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed? Or the opposite — being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3

9. Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way:  0 – 1 – 2 – 3


0 + ______ + ______ + ______

= Total Score: ______

About the difficulty of your problems

If you checked off any problems, how difficult have these problems made it for you to do your work, take care of things at home, or get along with other people?

  • Not difficult at all
  • Somewhat difficult
  • Very difficult
  • Extremely difficult

Click here for a downloadable/printable version (PDF) of this depression screening questionnaire

Depression severity: PHQ-9 scoring
PHQ-9 score Depression severity Proposed treatment actions
(for your healthcare provider to consider)
0–4 None-minimal None
5-9 Mild Watchful waiting; repeat PHQ-9 at follow-up
10-14 Moderate Treatment plan, considering counseling, follow-up and/or pharmacotherapy
15–19 Moderately severe Active treatment with pharmacotherapy and/or psychotherapy
20–27 Severe Immediate initiation of pharmacotherapy and, if severe impairment or poor response to therapy, expedited referral to a mental health specialist for psychotherapy and/or collaborative management

* From Kroenke K, Spitzer RL, Psychiatric Annals 2002;32:509-521

Nancy J Price & Betsy Bailey

Nancy J Price & Betsy Bailey

We're Nancy and Betsy, and we've been adventuring in the digital world since the mid-90s -- truly making us that type of entrepreneurial internet pioneer Gen X is known for! We started Myria.com back in 1998 and later launched SheKnows.com -- among various other online and print projects. Our partnership has spanned decades and crossed state lines (multiple times!). Nancy currently resides Arizona, and Betsy's newest home base is Minnesota. It's been an incredible journey of collaboration and innovation. You can read more about our story here!

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