March 19, 2019 Network in the Know

Screening Tools for Measuring Depression

When a patient seeks treatment for depression, it’s a good idea for the physician to use a scale to measure subjective symptoms. Several screening tools are available to assess mood, motivation level, and suicidal thoughts. For example, the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) is an appropriate tool for identifying depression in teens and adults, whereas older patients should be screened with a Geriatric Depression Scale. If the scores on these tools are indicative of depression, treatment is likely warranted.

Once depression is diagnosed, the PHQ-9, PHQ-9 modified for teens, or Beck Depression Inventory can be administered on an ongoing basis to monitor the severity of symptoms, such as hopelessness, fatigue, and somatic manifestations. Higher scores indicate more severe depression. As the goal of treatment is to lessen the severity of depressive symptoms, the hope is that the patient’s score will be lowered as medication and therapy take effect.

A primary benefit to using these scales is that they provide patients and physicians with benchmarks for assessing an illness that often does not lend itself to solid metrics. Use of these scales may also motivate patients to continue with treatment as they observe their score dropping with each subsequent re-test. Alternatively, the physician will know to alter treatment if scores worsen or don’t improve over time.

For more information on diagnosing and treating depression, consult our website.

Adele O'Connell
About the Author

Adele joined CDPHP in 2004 as an internal communications and event specialist. She then spent eight years coordinating the company’s community relations and corporate events program, in which capacity she worked with a host of non-profit organizations and co-chaired the CDPHP annual Charity of Choice campaign. Currently, she is a communications specialist and coordinator of corporate member engagement and serves on the boards of two local charities. Prior to CDPHP, Adele served as a legislative assistant for a trade association and as an acquisitions and developmental editor, specializing in educational and medical publishing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Rosemont College.

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