The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) is a multiple choice questionnaire that clinicians may use to rate the severity of a patient’s major depression. The questionnaire, which is designed for adult patients and is in the public domain, rates the severity of symptoms observed in depression such as low mood, insomnia, agitation, anxiety and weight loss. It is presently one of the most commonly used scales for rating depression in medical research.
The clinician must choose the possible responses to each question by interviewing the patient and by observing the patient’s symptoms. Each question has between 3-5 possible responses which increase in severity. In the original scale published in 1960, the first 17 questions contribute to the total score (HRSD-17). Administration time is about 20-30 minutes. A score of 0-7 is considered to be normal, scores of 20 or higher indicate moderately severe depression and are usually required for entry into a clinical trial. Questions 18-21 may be recorded to give further information about the depression (such as whether diurnal variation or paranoid symptoms are present), but are not part of the scale. A structured interview guide for the questionnaire is available.