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Depression is not a normal part of the aging process and yet far too many elderly patients with depressive symptoms suffer through this mental illness, undiagnosed and untreated.

Doctors may miss the signs, other conditions may mask the symptoms and older patients may feel reluctant to complain about the way they feel, but whatever the reason, untreated depression is a tragedy and older patients respond very well to treatments for depression.

The Geriatric Depression Scale

The Geriatric Depression Scale is a test designed to spot depression or evaluate the severity of depressive symptoms. The test is based on 30 yes or no questions, and was developed as an easier screening test for seniors, including elderly people with diminished cognitive capacities.

The test is easy to administer and since its development in 1982, has proven a reliable indicator of depression.

  1. Are you basically satisfied with your life ?
  2. Have you dropped many of your activities and interests ?
  3. Do you feel that your life is empty ?
  4. Do you often get bored ?
  5. Are you hopeful about the future ?
  6. Are you bothered by thoughts you can't get out of your head ?
  7. Are you in good spirits most of the time ?
  8. Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you ?
  9. Do you feel happy most of the time ?
  10. Do you often feel helpless ?
  11. Do you often get restless and fidgety ?
  12. Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things ?
  13. Do you frequently worry about the future ?
  14. Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most ?
  15. Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now ?
  16. Do you often feel downhearted and blue ?
  17. Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now ?
  18. Do you worry a lot about the past ?
  19. Do you find life very exciting ?
  20. Is it hard for you to get started on new projects ?
  21. Do you feel full of energy ?
  22. Do you feel that your situation is hopeless ?
  23. Do you think that most people are better off than you are ?
  24. Do you frequently get upset over little things ?
  25. Do you frequently feel like crying ?
  26. Do you have trouble concentrating ?
  27. Do you enjoy getting up in the morning ?
  28. Do you prefer to avoid social gatherings ?
  29. Is it easy for you to make decisions ?
  30. Is your mind as clear as it used to be ?


This is the original scoring for the scale: One point for each of these answers. Cutoff: normal-0-9; mild depressives-10-19; severe depressives-20-30.

  1. no
  2. yes
  3. yes
  4. yes
  5. no
  6. yes
  7. no
  8. yes
  9. no
  10. yes
  11. yes
  12. yes
  13. yes
  14. yes
  15. no
  16. yes
  17. yes
  18. yes
  19. no
  20. yes
  21. no
  22. yes
  23. yes
  24. yes
  25. yes
  26. yes
  27. no
  28. yes
  29. no
  30. no
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Page last updated Jul 07, 2015

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