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The GDS questions are answered "yes" or "no", instead of a five-category response set. This simplicity enables the scale to be used with ill or moderately cognitively impaired individuals. The scale is commonly used as a routine part of a comprehensive geriatric assessment. One point is assigned to each answer and the cumulative score is rated on a scoring grid. The grid sets a range of 0-9 as "normal", 10-19 as "mildly depressed", and 20-30 as "severely depressed".
A diagnosis of clinical depression should not be based on GDS results alone. Although the test has well-established reliability and validity evaluated against other diagnostic criteria, responses should be considered along with results from a comprehensive diagnostic work-up. A short version of the GDS containing 15 questions has been developed, and the scale is available in languages other than English. The GDS was first developed in 1982 by J.A. Yesavage and others.
Scale questions and scoring
- Are you basically satisfied with your life?
- Have you dropped many of your activities and interests?
- Do you feel that your life is empty?
- Do you often get bored?
- Are you hopeful about the future?
- Are you bothered by thoughts you can't get out of your head?
- Are you in good spirits most of the time?
- Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you?
- Do you feel happy most of the time?
- Do you often feel helpless?
- Do you often get restless and fidgety?
- Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things?
- Do you frequently worry about the future?
- Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most?
- Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now?
- Do you often feel downhearted and blue?
- Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now?
- Do you worry a lot about the past?
- Do you find life very exciting?
- Is it hard for you to get started on new projects?
- Do you feel full of energy?
- Do you feel that your situation is hopeless?
- Do you think that most people are better off than you are?
- Do you frequently get upset over little things?
- Do you frequently feel like crying?
- Do you have trouble concentrating?
- Do you enjoy getting up in the morning?
- Do you prefer to avoid social gatherings?
- Is it easy for you to make decisions?
- Is your mind as clear as it used to be?
Original scoring for the scale: one point for each of these answers. Cutoff: normal 0-9, mild depressives 10-19, severe depressives 20-30.