The Geriatric Depression Scale
Identifying Depression in the Elderly

While there are a lot of depression tests out there, the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)is commonly used during routine assessments to identify issues with depression. You can take the GDS here on this page.

The GDS was developed in 1982 by J.A. Yesavitch, along with some colleagues. Why? Because depressive disorders are so prevalent in the geriatric population.



The elderly really struggle with feeling depressed as they are 5 times more predisposed to it than younger adults. In general, 1 in 6 generally healthy elderly adults will suffer with a depressive disorder. And, as you can imagine, the rate is even higher for those in assisted living, nursing homes and hospitals. Also, the elderly have the highest suicide rate of any other population.

Like the Beck Depression Inventory , the Geriatric Depression Scale is based on self assessment where the client answers questions based on how they feel. There are two versions: a comprehensive 30 question test or a shorter, 15 question version.

The great thing about this test is that it is much simpler to take because the questions require only "yes" or "no" answers. For instance, "are you basically satisfied with your life?" Most of the other depression test use a ranking system such as 1 through 5. Take the assessment below.

Some Precautions

No test is without its flaws and this one is no exception. They are as follows:

  • The test may present skewed results for patients with mild to moderate dementia
  • The test may bring a false depressed ranking to people with less education.
  • You can not diagnose a clinical depressive disorder using only the GDS. So, its important to use other diagnostic tools as well as obtain advice from a mental health professional.
  • Because this is a self assessment tool, there is a risk of misinterpretation of results. So, again, consult a mental health professional and use other diagnostic tools to get the full story




  • Geriatric Depression Scale to Depression Test Home Page


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