Depression Screening Tool

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Depression Screening Tool

Depression is a serious and common psychiatric disorder that can affect people of all age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018), during 2013–2016, 8.1% of American adults aged 20 and over had depression in a given 2-week period and women were almost twice as likely as men to have had depression. Many people with depression symptoms do not seek mental health treatment therefore rates of treatment remain low or received treatment is inadequate. It is important to provide routine screenings in the primary care setting which would help identify mental health conditions sooner which translates into earlier care. The primary care provider is often the one to screen patients and uncover mental health conditions such as depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (2017) states that about half of all mental health care/common psychiatric disorders are provided in the primary care settings. Patients with depression may present with mood, cognitive, or physical symptoms. Signs and symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, loss of interest in previously normal activities, feelings of worthlessness, sleeping too much or too little, lack of energy or feeling tired (McKinney & Tucker, 2015). There are many screening tools available to help identify and diagnose depression. When choosing a screening tool in the primary care setting, it is important to choose one that is accurate, reliable, and straightforward. The screening tool must also be individualized to acknowledge cognitive impairments and age-specific issues such as children, teens, and the elderly. One example of those depression screening tool is the Patient Health Questionnaire. It is one of the most common screening tool used to identify depression. The full Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) measures six disorders: depression, generalized anxiety, panic, somatization, eating, and alcohol abuse disorders (Al-Hadi et al., 2017). There is an abbreviated or short version of PHQ (the PHQ-9) that is more specific to depression. The PHQ-9 screening tool is a simple and accurate symptom-screening questionnaire that allows for criteria-based diagnoses of depressive disorders. It is classified as follow: 0–4 (no or minimal depressive symptoms), 5–9 (mild), 10–14 (moderate), 15–19 (moderately severe), and 20–27 (severe) (Maurer, Raymond, & Davis, 2018). Since the PHQ-9 allows severity of symptoms to be scored, this tool can also be used to evaluate treatment outcome. Identifying mental health disorders such as depression is the first step in getting necessary treatment. Depression is very serious as it can lead to suicide or complicate other medical/psychiatric conditions. Once a disorder such as depression is identified, the primary care provider has the responsibility to make and follow a treatment plan which can include antidepressants or refer the patient to a mental health professional if there is risk for serious harm to self or others.


Al-Hadi, A. N., AlAteeq, D. A., Al-Sharif, E., Bawazeer, H. M., Alanazi, H., AlShomrani, A. T. … & AlOwaybil. R. (2017). An arabic translation, reliability, and validation of Patient Health Questionnaire in a Saudi sample. Annals of General Psychiatry, Vol 16, Iss 1, Pp 1-9 (2017), (1), 1.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Prevalence of depression among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 2013–2016. Retrieved from

Maurer, D. M., Raymond, T. J., & Davis, B. N. (2018). Depression: Screening and Diagnosis. American Family Physician, 98(8), 508–515. Retrieved from

McKinney, B. J., & Tucker, P. (2015). The approach to depression in the primary care setting. The Journal of The Oklahoma State Medical Association, 108(4), 138–140. Retrieved from

National Institute of Mental Health. (2017). Mental Illness. Retrieved from