Depression rating scales in Parkinson's disease: critique and recommendations

Mov Disord. 2007 Jun 15;22(8):1077-92. doi: 10.1002/mds.21333.


Depression is a common comorbid condition in Parkinson's disease (PD) and a major contributor to poor quality of life and disability. However, depression can be difficult to assess in patients with PD due to overlapping symptoms and difficulties in the assessment of depression in cognitively impaired patients. As several rating scales have been used to assess depression in PD (dPD), the Movement Disorder Society commissioned a task force to assess their clinimetric properties and make clinical recommendations regarding their use. A systematic literature review was conducted to explore the use of depression scales in PD and determine which scales should be selected for this review. The scales reviewed were the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Hamilton Depression Scale (Ham-D), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS), Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) Part I, Cornell Scale for the Assessment of Depression in Dementia (CSDD), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Seven clinical researchers with clinical and research experience in the assessment of dPD were assigned to review the scales using a structured format. The most appropriate scale is dependent on the clinical or research goal. However, observer-rated scales are preferred if the study or clinical situation permits. For screening purposes, the HAM-D, BDI, HADS, MADRS, and GDS are valid in dPD. The CES-D and CSDD are alternative instruments that need validation in dPD. For measurement of severity of depressive symptoms, the Ham-D, MADRS, BDI, and SDS scales are recommended. Further studies are needed to validate the CSDD, which could be particularly useful for the assessment of severity of dPD in patients with comorbid dementia. To account for overlapping motor and nonmotor symptoms of depression, adjusted instrument cutoff scores may be needed for dPD, and scales to assess severity of motor symptoms (e.g., UPDRS) should also be included to help adjust for confounding factors. The HADS and the GDS include limited motor symptom assessment and may, therefore, be most useful in rating depression severity across a range of PD severity; however, these scales appear insensitive in severe depression. The complex and time-consuming task of developing a new scale to measure depression specifically for patients with PD is currently not warranted.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires