Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS)

The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) is an assessment tool designed specifically for detecting symptoms of depression in older adults. It was initially developed by Yesavage et al. in 1983 as a response to the need for a more accurate and reliable measure of depression in geriatric populations, who often exhibit different symptomatology compared to younger age groups. The GDS is widely used by healthcare professionals, researchers, and clinicians in various settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, and community centers.

The scale consists of 30 items or questions, each of which can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” These questions are carefully crafted to assess various aspects of an individual's mental state, including feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, changes in sleep patterns, and difficulties with concentration. The total score obtained from the GDS is used as an index of depressive symptoms, with higher scores indicating a greater likelihood of depression.

One key advantage of the GDS lies in its brevity and ease of administration. It can typically be completed within 5-10 minutes, making it less burdensome for older adults who may have limited energy or attention span due to age-related cognitive decline. Additionally, the “yes” or “no” response format simplifies the process for individuals with low educational levels or those experiencing difficulties with language comprehension.

The Geriatric Depression Scale has demonstrated good reliability and validity in various studies, making it a useful tool for identifying depression among older adults. Despite its limitations, such as potential cultural biases and lack of sensitivity to detect subclinical or mild depressive symptoms, the GDS remains an important component of comprehensive geriatric assessments and contributes valuable information for diagnosing and treating depression in older populations.

Please answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions in regards to how you have been feeling recently.

  Yes No
1. Are you basically satisfied with your life?
2. Have you dropped many of your activities and interests?
3. Do you feel that your life is empty?
4. Do you often get bored?
5. Are you hopeful about the future?
6. Are you bothered by thoughts you can’t get out of your head?
7. Are you in good spirits most of the time?
8. Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you?
9. Do you feel happy most of the time?
10. Do you often feel helpless?
11. Do you often get restless and fidgety?
12. Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things?
13. Do you frequently worry about the future?
14. Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most?
15. Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now?
16. Do you often feel downhearted and blue?
17. Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now?
18. Do you worry a lot about the past?
19. Do you find life very exciting?
20. Is it hard for you to get started on new projects?
21. Do you feel full of energy?
22. Do you feel that your situation is hopeless?
23. Do you think that most people are better off than you are?
24. Do you frequently get upset over little things?
25. Do you frequently feel like crying?
26. Do you have trouble concentrating?
27. Do you enjoy getting up in the morning?
28. Do you prefer to avoid social gatherings?
29. Is it easy for you to make decisions?
30. Is your mind as clear as it used to be?
  1. JA Yesavage, TL Brink, et al. Development and Validation of a Geriatric Depression Screening Scale: a Preliminary Report. 17(1): J Psychiatr Res. 37-49. .
  2. JI Sheikh, JA Yesavage. Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS): Recent Evidence and Development of a Shorter Version. 5(1/2): Clin Gerontol 165-173. .
  3. EL Lesher, JS Berryhill. Validation of the Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form Among Inpatients. 50(2): J Clin Psychol 256-260. .