Written by
Matt Olivares
Matt Olivares
Reviewed by
Matt Olivares

Goldberg Depression Test (Goldberg Depression Scale)

Gauge the severity of your patient’s depression with the Goldberg Depression Test and use the results to help you decide what to do for your patient.

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What is the Goldberg Depression Test?

The Goldberg Depression Test, also known as the Goldberg Depression Scale, is a useful tool and one of many depression scales that mental healthcare professionals and providers use to assess the severity of depression symptoms in patients. Depression tests are not used to diagnose depression but help with the diagnostic process (which should include physical exams like blood tests, CT scans or MRI, electrocardiogram, and/or electroencephalogram).

A depression test or depression scale usually comes as a questionnaire, which is the case for the Goldberg Depression Scale. Sometimes they are answered with a simple YES or NO, while some are answered with ratings from zero or one to a certain number, the latter of which is a characteristic of the Goldberg Depression Scale.

Whichever answer type a depression test or depression scale has, they all do the same thing, which is assign a certain number of scores to certain answers, and these scores are tallied at the end. All depression scales have score ranges, and each range has a specific designation that, more often than not, represents a severity level for depression. Mental healthcare professionals using these scales will use the results to determine what to do next for the patient. This can either be more tests to diagnose depression or if they are already diagnosed, they can use it to determine what goes into their treatment plan (like what medication to use or what specific therapy they should take).

Printable Goldberg Depression Test

Download this Goldberg Depression Test to assess depression symptoms in your patients.

How to use the Goldberg Depression Test

The Goldberg Depression Scale is a questionnaire with eighteen questions. There are two ways to use it, and it’s up to you how you want to go about it:

  1. You can conduct the test like an interview. You simply need to recite the questions and have the patient select one of the preset answers on the scale. This is more time-consuming than the other method, but it gives you room to ask follow-up questions if needed. You might cover more ground with your patient by opting for this.
  1. The second method is the easiest and most common way that this is conducted, which is to hand your patient a copy of the Goldberg Depression Scale sheet and have them answer it on their own.

Whichever method you choose, they will answer with any of the following:

  • Not at all = 0 points
  • Just a little = 1 point
  • Somewhat = 2 points
  • Moderately = 3 points
  • Quite a lot = 4 points
  • Very much = 5 points

After your patient answers the questions, tally the scores and see which designation the total score falls on:

  • 0 to 9 = Depression is unlikely
  • 10 to 17 = Possibly minor depression
  • 18 to 21 = On the verge of depression
  • 22 to 35 = Minor to moderate depression
  • 36 to 53 = Moderate to severe depression
  • 54+ = Severe depression

The next steps you’ll need to take will depend on what range and designation your patient falls on.

Goldberg Depression Test Example

Now that you know what depression scales are, what the Goldberg Depression Scale is, how patients answer it, and how to interpret the scores, it’s time to see what it looks like. The Goldberg Depression Scale PDF template has radio buttons for you or your patient to answer the questions, and there’s an editable field where you can write down the total score. 

If you like what you see and believe this will benefit your work and help you cover more ground with your patients, download this free depression test template! You can print it and hand copies to your patients, or you can send them the PDF file and have them engage with the interactable parts of the PDF!

Download this Goldberg Depression Test Example:

Goldberg Depression Test Example

When is it best to use the Goldberg Depression Test?

If you’re a mental healthcare professional wondering when would be the best time to use depression scales, well, here are two that you can take note of!

The first would be when trying to assess the patient for depression symptoms. For this example, we’ll stipulate that the patient hasn’t been diagnosed with depression and is getting checked for possibly having it for the first time. Depression tests or depression scales are wonderful tools that can help professionals during the diagnostic process. As we mentioned earlier, they are usually used alongside other tests as part of a comprehensive examination because depression scales alone are not sufficient when diagnosing a patient with depression. Imaging tests and even blood tests are involved.

Another appropriate time to use the Goldberg Depression Scale is during therapy sessions with a client officially diagnosed with depression. The goal of therapy is to help manage their depression. Depression tests or scales can be used during the therapy process to gauge the severity of symptoms. The results will help therapists, psychologists, and adjacent healthcare professionals determine what they should include in the care plan for their patients, like what medication they can prescribe, what worksheets to use, what specific therapy they need, etc.

What are the benefits of using the Goldberg Depression Test?

The Goldberg Depression Scale is easy to use.

Most depression scales are easy to use because all that needs to be done is simply answer some questions or rate items. The answers are always preset, so the person answering the scale doesn’t need to expand on their answers in writing. On the side of the mental healthcare professional using it, they don’t need to do much. If they opt to conduct the scale like an interview, they will tick the buttons as soon as the patient answers. They will also tally the scores; they don’t need to do any complex calculations.

If they issue this to the patient for them to answer the scale, they just need to wait for the patient to finish answering, then tally the scores once the accomplished scale has been submitted.

The results can help professionals formulate a treatment plan.

As with other depression tests, the Goldberg Depression Scale has score ranges and designations. After calculating the total score, mental healthcare professionals can refer to the score ranges and designations to know the severity of the patient’s depression. Knowing the severity will help professionals determine what goes into a patient’s treatment plan, such as what medication they should prescribe, whether they should be enrolled in cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, existential therapy, or some other type of therapy geared for managing depression; what worksheet to issue as exercises during therapy, etc.

It can also be used to monitor the recovery progress of patients.

Let’s stipulate that you’ve already implemented a treatment plan for your patient with depression. This treatment plan includes medication and therapy. It’s only natural for the healthcare professional to want to know how they’re doing and if they’re making any progress.

One way to determine if they’re improving is to reissue a depression test or depression scale. In the case of the Goldberg Depression Scale, the higher the score, the higher the severity level of the depression. So, if the patient gets a lower score than the first test they took, you can safely say that your patient is getting better, the medication seems to be working, and the therapy program they’re taking is fruitful. If not, you might want to tweak your plan and see if the changes work.

How do we interpret the results of the Goldberg Depression Scale?
How do we interpret the results of the Goldberg Depression Scale?

Commonly asked questions

How do we interpret the results of the Goldberg Depression Scale?

You may refer to the score ranges and designations of the Goldberg Depression Scale, so you know the severity of your patient’s depression symptoms.

Is it safe to assume that these score ranges are objective?

While it does sound strange to quantify a depression’s severity level, what the Goldberg Depression Scale and many other depression scales do is create a semblance of objectivity through their score ranges and designations. The answers are based on your patient’s perspective, so it is technically subjective, but the numbers are there to give you an idea as to how mild or severe your patient’s depression is, and it’ll help you create a plan for your patient, like what medication they need to take and what therapy program they should be enrolled in.

I’m not a healthcare professional. Can I still use this to evaluate myself?

Yes. Depression tests and depression scales are, more often than not, self-assessments. You can definitely use the Goldberg Depression Scale to assess yourself. However, you should not diagnose yourself with depression under any circumstance. If you want to know if you actually have depression, please get yourself checked by a professional.

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