Professional Reference articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use, so you may find the language more technical than the condition leaflets.
This is suitable as a screening test for depression symptoms in the elderly; ideal for evaluating the clinical severity of depression and therefore for monitoring treatment. It is easy to administer, needs no prior psychiatric knowledge and has been well validated in many environments.[1, 2]
The original Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) was a 30-item questionnaire - time-consuming and challenging for some patients (and staff). Later versions retain only the most discriminating questions; their validity approaches that of the original form.
Depression assessments such as the 4-item Geriatric Depression Scale are easy and quick to perform, with a high sensitivity and specificity. Patients who screen positive for depression should be considered for antidepressants and be reassessed cognitively when their depression has lifted. Care must be taken, as dementia and depression often co-exist.
Dr Yesavage has confirmed that the original scale (from which the calculator has been derived) is in the public domain due to it being partly the result of US Federal support.
The 15-item (GDS-15) and 4-item (GDS-4) versions of the GDS are good methods of screening for major depression (as is the 10-item version). The shorter of these (GDS-4) is of limited clinical value in monitoring the severity of the depressive episode (may be better used to exclude depression). The systematic use of short GDS versions in Primary Care may increase detection rates of depression among the elderly.
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