Ask the patient: how often have they been bothered by the following over the past 2 weeks?

1. . How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?

2. How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?

3. How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?

4. When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?

5. . How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit down for a long time?

6. How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?



Scores ≤4 are less likely to be consistent with Adult ADHD.


Final diagnosis should be made with clinical interview and mental status examination including assessment of patient’s level of distress and functional impairment.


PHQ-9 Management Summary
Score Depression severity Comments
0-4 Minimal or none Monitor; may not require treatment
5-9 Mild Use clinical judgment (symptom duration, functional impairment) to determine necessity of treatment
10-14 Moderate
15-19 Moderately severe Warrants active treatment with psychotherapy, medications, or combination
20-27 Severe


  • Perform suicide risk assessment in patients who respond positively to item 9 “Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way.”
  • Rule out bipolar disorder, normal bereavement, and medical disorders causing depression.


Addition of the selected points.


The PHQ-9 is a validated, 9-question tool to assess for the degree of depression present in an individual; the last question is not scored, but is useful functionally to help the clinician assess the impact of the patient's symptoms on his or her life.


The PHQ-9 was initially developed by Kroenke et al (2001), as a subset of 9 questions from the full PHQ, which had previously been derived and studied in a cohort of 6,000 patients in 8 primary care clinics and 7 obstetrics-gynecology clinics (Spitzer 1999). PHQ-9 scores ≥10 were found to be 88% sensitive and also 88% specific for detecting MDD. Criterion validity was also assessed in a sample of 580 patients.

The PHQ-9 has also been validated in several additional subpopulations, including in psychiatric patients (Beard 2016), patients with medical comorbidities such as multiple sclerosis (Ferrando 2007) and Parkinson’s disease (Chagas 2013), pregnant patients (Sidebottom 2012), and in an occupational health setting (Volker 2016).

A meta-analysis of 29 studies including 6,725 patients found similar sensitivity (88%, 95% CI 83-92%) and specificity (85%, 95% CI 82-88%) for a cutoff of ≥10 as did the previous studies, both overall and for subgroups. Notably, they found that when used in the primary care setting, only approximately 50% of patients screening positive on the PHQ-9 in fact had major depression (Levis 2019).