Differentiating moderate and severe depression using the Montgomery-Asberg depression rating scale (MADRS)

J Affect Disord. 2003 Dec;77(3):255-60. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(02)00120-9.


Background: MADRS cut-off scores for moderate and severe depression were estimated in relation to the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD(17)) and the Clinical Global Impressions Scale (CGI).

Method: HAMD(17), MADRS, and CGI ratings from patients with major depression (DSM-IV) were analyzed (N=85). Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves were applied.

Results: Mean age was 51.4+/-14.5 years, 69% were female. Mean MADRS scores were 23.4+/-13.2, HAMD(17), MADRS, and CGI scores were highly correlated (r>0.85; P<0.0001). Best separation between moderate and severe depression according to CGI criteria was achieved with a MADRS score of 31 (sensitivity 93.5%, specificity 83.3%).

Limitations: Studies to validate severity gradations including DSM-IV or ICD-10 diagnostic severity categories are recommended.

Conclusions: Empirically based MADRS cut-off scores to separate moderate from severe depression on the basis of HAMD(17) and CGI severity ratings in patients with major depression were yielded.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / classification*
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status Schedule*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Severity of Illness Index