What is the PHQ-9?
The PHQ-9 is the nine item depression scale of the Patient Health Questionnaire*. It can be a powerful tool to assist clinicians with diagnosing depression and monitoring treatment response. The nine items of the PHQ-9 are based directly on the nine diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fourth Edition). This can help track a patients overall depression severity as well as the specific symptoms that are improving or not with treatment.
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Since the questionnaires rely 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. Diagnoses of Major Depressive Disorder or Other Depressive Disorder also require impairment of social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (Question #10 of the PHQ-9) and ruling out normal bereavement, a history of a Manic Episode (Bipolar Disorder), and a physical disorder, medication, or other drug as the biological cause of the depressive symptoms.