Scoring for PHQ 9: Do You Have Depression?

Are you looking for help understanding and scoring for PHQ 9 depression questionnaire? On this page you will find information about the tool. Below you will find a a link to an interactive version for you to out. In this article you will find information about other health questionnaires similar to the PHQ 9 patient health questionnaire. If you would like to findout about hypnotherapy for depression, click here.




Scoring for PHQ 9: Do you have depression?


Our Quick Guide to the Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-9


Description: For scoring for PHQ 9, follow the criteria for a Major Depressive Episode listed in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) .  Symptom severity is rated by indicating the frequency that depressive symptoms have been experienced during the last 2 weeks on a scale of 0 “Not at all” to 3 “Nearly every day”.  An additional single item is rated to determine the impact of depressive symptoms on psycho, social, and occupational functioning.
Purpose: The PHQ-9 is used to screen for depression, aid in diagnosis[1], and monitor change in symptoms over time.
Target Population: Adolescents, adults, older adults
Languages: The PHQ-9 has been translated into over 30 languages and can be downloaded from the PHQ website:  
Scoring and Interpreting: Scoring for PHQ 9 is is computed by first producing a sum for each column (e.g. each item chosen in column “More than half the days” = 2), then summing the column totals.  Total Scores range from 0 to 27, and indicate the following levels of depression severity:  
Total Score Depression Severity 0-4 None 5-9 Mild depression 10-14 Moderate depression 15-19 Moderately severe depression 20-27 Severe depression. In addition to the patient’s Total Score, the responses to Question #9 (suicidality) and Question #10 (the impact of symptoms on the patient’s daily functioning) should be reviewed to determine appropriate treatment interventions. 
When to use: As indicated to screen for depression
Recommended Interventions: The medical professional asks the patient about preferences for addressing troubling symptoms. Offer behavioral strategies (for example, planning and engaging in more pleasurable, social, and mastery activities as well as exercise) and cognitive behavioral strategies (for example, taking a systematic approach to solving life problems). For patients with higher levels of severity and/ or with greater negative impact on ability to function, explore patient interest in combined treatment.


This short video shows how the PQH 9 scoring affects medication in an American hospital



Scoring for PHQ 9: Do You Have Depression? Related instruments


Besides coring for PHQ 9, there are several other questionnaires that can be used to decide if you may have depression. The PHQ-2 is an abridged form of the PHQ-9. It consists of just the first two questions of the PHQ-9. As such it will only take seconds to fill in. If you gain a score of three or more on the PHQ-2, this will generally then result in the use of the PHQ-9 questionnaire.

Another questionnaire is the PHQ-8. This consists of all of the PHQ-9 questions with the exception of the final question, which asks about suicidal thoughts. The PHQ 8 is usually used in research settings and not with people with depression. Not including the ninth question has little effect on scoring between the PHQ-8 and PHQ-9 and studies have shown scores between the two tests to be highly consistent.

The PHQ-15 questionnaire has 15 questions. It includes questions about 15 symptoms relating to somatoform disorders. A person is asked to rate how certain symptoms have bothered them over the last 30 days. Question replies range from “not at all” (a score of 0) to “bothered a lot” (a score of 2). The higher the score given on the PHQ-15, the more the likelihood of functional impairment or disability.

The GAD-7 questionnaire is a seven question anxiety screening tool. Just like the PHQ-9 questionnaire, the GAD-7 gives a final score between 0 and 27. These will indicate mild, moderate, and severe anxiety. The GAD-7 is used to assess the severity of anxiety only without addressing depression. Just like the PHQ-9, there is a shortened version of the GAD-7, which is the GAD-2. This is simply the first two questions of the GAD-7.  Here are some details about the GAD-7 questionnaire:


PHQ 9 scoring


Scoring for PHQ 9 and a Quick Guide to the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7)


Description: The GAD-7 contains 7 items which assess the frequency of anxiety related symptoms over the past 2 weeks.  The GAD-7 can be used as a self-report tool or as an interview.
Purpose: The GAD-7 is used to screen for anxiety and measure the severity of symptoms.
Target Population: Adults
Languages: The GAD-7 has been translated into over 30 languages and can be downloaded from the PHQ website:  
Scoring and Interpreting: Each question has a number value (0-3).  The total score is computed by adding the values endorsed for each item.  Total Scores range from 0 to 21, and indicate the following levels of anxiety severity:   Total Score Anxiety Severity 0-5 None or mild 6-10 Moderate anxiety 11-15 Moderately severe anxiety 16-21 Severe anxiety. A recommended cut-point for further evaluation is a score of 10 or greater.
When to use: As indicated to screen for anxiety
Recommended Interventions: Use this screener to help patients assess skill development in relaxation classes, therapy sessions and workshops.


The Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD-7 Questions (compare it to PHQ 9 scoring)


Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems? (Circle the number to indicate your answer.) Not at all Several days More than half the days Nearly every day
Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge 0 1 2 3
Not being able to stop or control worrying 0 1 2 3
Worrying too much about different things 0 1 2 3
Trouble relaxing 0 1 2 3
Being so restless that it is hard to sit still 0 1 2 3
Becoming easily annoyed or irritable 0 1 2 3
Feeling afraid as if something awful might happen 0 1 2 3


For information about my sessions to help with anxiety or depression click here.

Notes: [1] Since the questionnaire relies on patient self-report, all responses should be verified by the clinician and a definitive diagnosis made on clinical grounds, taking into account how well the patient understood the questionnaire, as well as other relevant information from the patient. A diagnosis of any Depressive Disorder requires impairment of social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (Question #10).  A definitive diagnosis should not be made without taking a thorough history of the patient’s depressive symptoms (as well as any Manic or Hypomanic Episodes) and contributing factors and considering all relevant differential diagnoses.

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Jason Demant Clinical Hypnotherapist
London hypnotherapist. Seeing Clients in King's Cross and online.