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Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression

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Abbreviated the HAM-D, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression is a depression questionnaire that clinicians can use to rate the severity of a patient's symptoms of major depression, but it is more commonly used to rate the levels of depression in patients when involved in a scientific study. This is because the HAM-D is not intended as a diagnostic tool as is the Beck Depression Inventory, but as a way to comprehensively survey the type and and severity of the depression present in an individual or a group of individuals.

Different versions of the test have a different number of questions but all address the following topics:

  • depressed mood
  • feelings of guilt
  • presence of suicidal thoughts/ideation
  • insomnia
  • inability to perform work/other activities
  • physical and emotional agitation
  • physical and emotional anxiety
  • psychomotor retardation
  • loss of libido
  • loss of weight
  • hypochondriasis
  • obsessive and/or compulsive symptoms
  • severity of symptoms variation
  • paranoid symptoms

The original test (from 1960) had a total of 17 questions, but since then some versions have up to 24 questions and the last 4 are usually used to indicate a type of depression (the first 17-20 deal with severity).1

  1. Reference: Hamilton M. A rating scale for depression.J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 1960; 23:56–62. Retrieved on September 2, 2010 from