THIS QUESTIONAIRE “WILL” DETERMINE WHETHER YOU ARE OLD AND DEPRESSED???
Geriatric Depression Scale (short form)
Tools may be copied without permission Instructions: Circle the answer that best describes how you felt over the past week.
- Are you basically satisfied with your life? yes no
- Have you dropped many of your activities and interests? yes no
- Do you feel that your life is empty? yes no
- Do you often get bored? yes no
- Are you in good spirits most of the time? yes no
- Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you? yes no
- Do you feel happy most of the time? yes no
- Do you often feel helpless? yes no
- Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing things? yes no
- Do you feel that you have more problems with memory than most? yes no
- Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now? yes no
- Do you feel worthless the way you are now? yes no
- Do you feel full of energy? yes no
- Do you feel that your situation is hopeless? yes no
- Do you think that most people are better off than you are? yes no
It was discovered that the long 30 question geriatric screening scale was a little confusing to patients so a shorter 15 question test is now administered to determine whether you have geriatric depression. So let’s analyze it.
My first objection is that the questionnaire only covers the prior week and a truly depressed human is depressed over several months and not just one week. Vagueness and inaccurate questioning is my main objection.
The question “have you dropped many of your activities and interests” does not answer the question over how long a period of time did you drop them? If it was over a five year period then this can be normal aging and if over a week’s time then it may be due to a physical accident which incapacitated you. MANY does not quantify the answer since to some humans many means three or more and to others it means 10 or more so losing interest in 3 things may be considered normal and losing interest in 10 things highly abnormal.
What in the world does “EMPTY life” mean? Does it mean that you are doing nothing at all and just eating and sleeping or does empty mean that you feel that your life no longer has an important purpose or goal to pursue? If you are just eating and sleeping then you may have a serious motivation problem but if it is empty because you feel that you have no purpose in life but just to exist then this is just normal aging, especially if your offspring are grown, your spouse has died, and you feel that you have no one to take care of or goals to reach. it’s not a sign of depression.
“OFTEN get bored” does not answer how often a week you get bored and with what you are bored? If you are a channel switcher and get bored watching uninteresting stuff on the TV then you could say that you are often bored or perhaps a hundred times a week. If you get bored cleaning the house, preparing meals, exercising, washing the dishes, listening to the radio, or watching TV then this is just a normal human reaction to doing mundane boring repetitive actions and may not mean that you are depressed.
“Being afraid that something bad is going to happen to you” is normal for old humans who know they can probably die at any minute. The real question to ask is are you obsessed with fear frequently throughout the week or is it just a general fear that you have which maybe just surfaces once or twice a week. If you are obsessed with fear then that is paranoia and not necessarily depression and if you fear for your life or are in fear of falling or in fear of a physical injury then that is normal precaution taking and definitely not a sign of depression. Unanswered is the question of WHAT bad thing do you think is going to happen to you? If there is a list of 5 or 10 bad things which you constantly fear then there may be a serious coping problem but not necessarily depression.
“Often feel helpless” does not differentiate between feeling helpless every time you would have to walk and have to use the wheelchair instead and an obsession of helplessness since you have to spend most of the time in bed due to some handicap or incapacity. Once again WHAT you feel helpless about is a more accurate and important question than just asking about a general helpless feeling. Helplessness is a normal part of aging when your physical and mental abilities are in decline and not necessarily a sign of depression.
“Do you prefer to stay at home and not going out and doing things?” This is a normal desire in the age of the smart phone and internet where you can surf the internet and entertain yourself on the computer. There no longer is a great need to go out and do things so if you prefer to stay at home then this is not necessarily a sign of depression but just a fact of the modern day world.
Feeling that you have “more problems with memory than most” is not a sign of depression but merely stating a fact that you may have the onset of Altzheimers, dementia, or some other mental illness. Not asked is a more important question and that is do your memory problems cause you extreme stress or do you feel that you can handle the disability?
Feeling worthless and hopeless about your situation in life is not a sign of depression but a fact of life for the elderly with little responsibility and geriatric illnesses such as joint and back pains which don’t seem to go away or get any better.
“Thinking that most humans are better off than you” is not an uncommon conclusion, especially if you are on limited social security income with high medical bills and barely making ends meet. Thinking and feeling bad about your situation in life is not a sign of depression but a fact of life which you have to cope with to the best of your ability.
The remaining 6 of the 15 questions try to probe your optimism, happiness, and general satisfaction with life at the present time and are not in any way signs of depression but rather indications that you may not be depressed at all.
My serious objection is also the yes or no format of answering which is extreme behavioral opposites or basically having to say that you always feel that way with a yes or that you never feel that way with a no. Your feelings come and go and have a certain frequency of existence so you can’t say that you always feel worthless, hopeless, fearful, or bored or say that you never feel worthless, hopeless, fearful, or bored. Knowing the frequency of the feelings, their duration, their intensity, and what those feelings are about is important to know accurately and this questionnaire simply does not meet that necessary standard for credibility.
The extreme vagueness and inaccuracy of this questionnaire in no way can be considered to be an objective evaluation of geriatric depression. Frequency, duration, intensity, and pinpointing what specifically you are talking about is not covered in the questionnaire. It is impossible to tell whether you are even depressed and if you are there is no clue whether you are chronically depressed, severely depressed, normally depressed, or mildly depressed!!!
Is the incidence of depression and medication for it going through the roof? Yes. And the main reason is incompetent psychiatrists doing subjective seat of the pants diagnosis with idiotic questioning which not only appears in print but is even more pronounced and dysfunctional in the psychiatric office environment of personal questioning.
DEVELOPMENT AND VALIDATION OF A GERIATRIC DEPRESSION SCREENING SCALE: A PRELIMINARY REPORT
JEROME A. YESAVAGE, T. L. BRINK Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A. TERENCE L. ROSE Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304, U.S.A. OWEN LLJM Geriatric Treatment Team, Santa Clara County Mental Health VIRWNIA HUAKC;, MKHA~L ADFY and VON OTTO LEIRER Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA 94304, U.S.A. (Received 25 January 1982; revised 28 June 1982)
THE GERIATRIC DEPRESSION SCALE
Choose the best answer for how you felt over the past week and answer yes or no
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?
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