This is suitable as a screening test for depression symptoms in the elderly; ideal for evaluating the clinical severity of depression and therefore for monitoring treatment. It is easy to administer, needs no prior psychiatric knowledge and has been well validated in many environments.
Depression assessments such as the 4-item Geriatric Depression Scale are easy and quick to perform, with a high sensitivity and specificity. There is also a 15-item version of the scale. Patients who screen positive for depression should be considered for antidepressants and be reassessed cognitively when their depression has lifted. Care must be taken, as dementia and depression often co-exist.