Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21)

Use the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21) to measure the levels of your client’s depression, anxiety, and stress! It will help you create a plan to guide them toward their desired treatment outcomes.

Audrey Liz Perez
Audrey Liz Perez
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What is the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21)?

Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. Three emotional states that most, if not all, people experience at certain points in their life. Some, unfortunately, experience all three at the same time, to varying degrees.

For psychologists and adjacent practitioners, a nifty tool was developed by S.H. Lovibond and P.F. Lovibond to help them assess their clients who experience all three, and it’s aptly named the “ (DASS-21).”

This particular scale consists of twenty-one items. Each one corresponds to one of the three emotions (they are marked by “d,” “a,” and “s” respectively), making it seven items per emotion.

This scale is used to assess the kinds of things that people experience in relation to those three emotions, like self-deprecation, hopelessness, paranoia, being easily irritable or agitated, etc. It also assigns corresponding numbers based on the total scores per emotion in order to see if the levels of these emotions are normal, mild, moderate, severe, or extremely severe.

Printable Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale

Download this Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale and assess the extent of your client’s mental health challenges.

How to use the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21):

Have your client answer the assessment!

Using the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale is extremely easy. On the part of the psychologist, they just have to issue this to their client. On the part of the client, they just need to think about how each item applies to them over the past week, and then rate each one between 0-3.

Here’s how the rating scale goes:

  • 0 = did not apply to me at all
  • 1 = applied to me to some degree or some of the time
  • 2 = applied to me to a considerable degree or a good part of the time
  • 3 = applied to me very much or most of the time

Tally the scores after receiving a fully-accomplished scale!

Once you receive a fully-accomplished scale from your client, all you need to do is to tally the scores for the three emotions.

Here are the severity designations per score range for all three:

Create a treatment plan for your client.

Once you’ve totaled the scores for all three emotions, you should be able to determine the level of each via the table above. The level that each total score falls under should help you determine what goes into the treatment plan you’re going to make for them. Do they need medicine? Do they need to try certain things? Do they need a change in environment? The answers to your questions might be shaped by the results.

Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21) Example

Here is a filled-out Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21) sample, to help consolidate your understanding of how this resource functions.

Download this Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale  Example (Sample) here

Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21) Example

Who can use the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21)?

The following healthcare practitioners can use the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21) for their respective practices:

Their clients will be engaging with the scale the most since they will be rating themselves based on each item.

Why is this scale popular and useful for psychologists and adjacent practitioners?

It’s easy to use and has clear designations.

The scale is clear to the point that both the healthcare practitioner and client don’t need to fret about it. The client simply needs to look at themselves based on the prompts and how it applies to them over the past week. There are score ranges and designations for the healthcare practitioner’s benefit, so they don’t have to mull over whether a certain score means “really bad” or “mild.”

It’ll help the practitioner make decisions for their treatment plans!

Given that there are score ranges and corresponding designations for each emotion, there is a semblance of objectivity as to how severe the levels of the client’s depression, anxiety, and stress are. This should help you decide what goes into the treatment plan you’re going to make for your client.

You can reissue this scale for monitoring purposes!

Using this scale doesn’t have to be a one-off thing. Since working through depression, anxiety, and stress doesn’t happen overnight, it might be best to check if your client is making progress. To do that, you may reissue this scale to them. The same rules apply the second time around and onward.

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Why use Carepatron for psychotherapy software?

Here at Carepatron, we care about helping healthcare practitioners improve productivity and efficiency, especially when it comes to streamlining their clinical documentation. By taking advantage of our easy-to-navigate EHR system, you’ll gain access to a wide variety of psychotherapy assessments such as the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21).

Using our assessments will help assist you with gauging your patient’s mental health. In the case of this assessment, it’s for gauging their depression, anxiety, and stress levels! These assessments should aid in helping you determine the next course of care program, whether it’s diagnosing them, deciding what medicine to use, and other actionable steps that may assist to help them work through their emotions and condition!

You can even store these assessments in a HIPAA-compliant manner and secure them by setting up who can access these documents besides you.

Not only are our psychotherapy software and assessments intuitive, but they’re also easily accessible! Whether you’re using an office desktop, a laptop, or even just your phone, you can access your depression scale assessments anytime, anywhere!

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Is it safe to assume that the results of this scale are objective?
Is it safe to assume that the results of this scale are objective?

Commonly asked questions

Is it safe to assume that the results of this scale are objective?

What the scale does is that it gives you a semblance of objectivity through the score ranges and score designations. The score ranges and designations will give you something to work with when assessing your client’s depression, anxiety, and stress levels.

When would it be best to start using this?

As soon as possible is always good. Of course, that depends on the health practitioner, but if you’re at that point when you need to come up with a treatment plan for them, gauging the problem is something you’ll have to do first. In the case of this scale, you’re gauging their depression, anxiety, and stress levels.

Is this best administered during a session (face-to-face or online)?

It’s up to you if you want your client to answer this sheet on the spot. But always be mindful of your client and how they’re feeling. If you suddenly issue this, it might be abrupt for them and they might get flustered or uncomfortable. That might add unnecessary pressure on them and contribute to their stress or anxiety.

Best to be on the safe side. If you want, you can have them take it home and submit it during your next appointment. Time and space might make them think clearly about themselves. But do remind them that their answers should be based on if the statements apply to them over the past week.

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