Protocol - Depressive Symptoms - Geriatric

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Geriatric Depression Scale - Short Form


Publicly available


An interviewer- or self-administered questionnaire of 15 yes/no questions to screen for depression in older adults.


Choose the best answer for how you have felt over the past week:

1. Are you basically satisfied with your life? [ ] YES / [ ] NO

2. Have you dropped many of your activities and interests? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

3. Do you feel that your life is empty? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

4. Do you often get bored? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

5. Are you in good spirits most of the time? [ ] YES / [ ] NO

6. Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

7. Do you feel happy most of the time? [ ] YES / [ ] NO

8. Do you often feel helpless? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

9. Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

10. Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

11. Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now? [ ] YES / [ ] NO

12. Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

13. Do you feel full of energy? [ ] YES / [ ] NO

14. Do you feel that your situation is hopeless? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

15. Do you think that most people are better off than you are? [ ] YES/ [ ] NO

Personnel and Training Required

The interviewer must be trained to conduct personal interviews with individuals from the general population. The interviewer must be trained and found to be competent (i.e., tested by an expert) at the completion of personal interviews. The interviewer should be trained to prompt respondents further if a "don't know" response is provided.

Equipment Needs

The PhenX Working Group acknowledges that these questions can be administered in a computerized or noncomputerized format (i.e., paper-and-pencil instrument). Computer software is necessary to develop computer-assisted instruments. The interviewer will require a laptop computer/handheld computer to administer a computer-assisted questionnaire.


Requirement CategoryRequired
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individualNo
Major equipmentNo
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collectionNo
Specialized trainingNo

Mode of Administration

Life Stage:


Specific Instructions:

These questions may be part of a self-administered or interviewer-administered questionnaire.

However, several studies have indicated different results between interviewer and self-report administrations within the same samples. Therefore, caution should be used in comparison to previously published samples. It may be advisable, such as in epidemiologic studies, to employ a two-step procedure combining self-report with follow-up interview-based administration.

Answers in bold indicate depression. Score 1 point for each bolded answer. A score greater than 5 points is suggestive of depression and should warrant a follow-up comprehensive assessment. A score greater than or equal to 10 points is almost always indicative of clinically significant depression.

Prorating Scores (What to do if a patient misses a couple items).

If, say, 3 of 15 items are missed, and the total score is 4 on the 12 completed items, add 4/12 of the 3 missing points (i.e., 1 point) to the score. The total score would be 4+1 = 5.

In other words, we are solving the equation 4/12 = X/15, so X = 5.

Research Domain Information

Release Date:

July 2, 2018


A self-report questionnaire to assess symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD).


This measure can be used to rapidly assess depressive symptoms and select cases and non-cases. Depression is a common disorder that demonstrates a familial pattern and is comorbid with other psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorder, substance use disorders, and eating disorders. Additionally, certain medical conditions-such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease-can increase the risk of depression. Some individuals who present with major depressive episodes may have a bipolar spectrum disorder.

Selection Rationale

The Geriatric Depression Scale is a validated, widely distributed, and easy-to-complete questionnaire that can be finished in approximately 5 to 7 minutes.


Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Welsh, Yiddish, Siberian, Russian Ukrainian, Maltese, French Canadian, Armenian, Creole, Informant English and Spanish



Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel has yet to review this measure.


Geriatric Depression Scale, https://web.stanford.edu/~yesavage/GDS.html

Brink, T. L., Yesavage, J. A., Lum, O., Heersema, P., Adey, M. B., & Rose, T. L. (1982). Screening tests for geriatric depression. Clinical Gerontologist, 1, 37-44.

General References

Sheikh, J. I., Yesavage, J. A. (1986). Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS): Recent evidence and development of a shorter version. Clinical Gerontology: A Guide to Assessment and Intervention165-173, NY: The Haworth Press, 1986.

Sheikh, J. I., Yesavage, J. A., Brooks, J. O., III, Friedman, L. F., Gratzinger, P., Hill, R. D., ... Crook, T. (1991). Proposed factor structure of the Geriatric Depression Scale. International Psychogeriatrics, 3, 23-28.

Yesavage, J. A., Brink, T. L., Rose, T. L., Lum, O., Huang, V., Adey, M. B., & Leirer, V. O. (1983). Development and validation of a geriatric depression screening scale: A preliminary report. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 17, 37-49.

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