42 questions to ask in a depression survey

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), 264 million people across the globe live with depression, yet many adults who experience this condition don’t receive treatment. Depression isn’t just a feeling of sadness, it’s a medical condition that can be treated successfully with interventions like psychotherapy, medication, and other modalities.

A depression screening survey is often the first step in identifying and assessing common symptoms of depression and determining the best treatment options. There are two main types of screening survey: self-rated and observer- or clinician-rated. These surveys can be used separately or in tandem.

In this article, we’ll explain what a depression survey is and how it’s used, share 42 depression survey question examples, and discuss how to use Jotform to create an online depression survey.

A brief overview of depression surveys and how clinicians use them

A depression survey is a self-administered or clinician-administered test that helps screen for depression symptoms. Depression survey questions gather information about a patient’s appetite, energy levels, sleep, mood, concentration, weight fluctuations, interest in daily activities, and other factors that contribute to overall mental health.

Clinicians use this screening method to help diagnose depression, understand its severity, and determine the type of depression a patient may have, but it does not, on its own, diagnose depression. Once a patient completes a depression survey, a healthcare provider will assess the responses and advise on next steps, including further evaluation or a possible treatment plan.

It’s important to keep in mind that while a self-rated test can help a person determine if they need to seek further guidance about their condition, the ratings from either a self-administered or a clinician- or observer-administered test on their own don’t constitute a clinical diagnosis made in consultation with a mental health professional.

42 depression survey question examples

A healthcare provider can ask a patient to answer depression survey questions, in which case they’re referred to as observer-rated or clinician-rated questions. An individual can administer a depression survey themselves; the questions in this type of survey are known as self-reported questions.

Initial observer- or clinician-rated depression survey questions

Healthcare providers often use the following two questions at the outset of an evaluation to determine whether to ask additional questions:

  • During the past month, have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed, or hopeless?
  • During the past month, have you been bothered by little interest or pleasure in doing things?

Follow-up observer-rated or clinician-rated depression survey questions

The following 16 assessments are based on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D),available in the public domain. A healthcare professional should administer these questions. They’re related to the presence of symptoms, as well as their frequency or severity.

Depressed mood

(Gloomy attitude, pessimism about the future, feeling of sadness, tendency to weep)

0 = Absent

1 = Sadness, etc.

2 = Occasional weeping

3 = Frequent weeping

4 = Extreme symptoms

Feelings of guilt

0 = Absent

1 = Self-reproach, feels he/she has let people down

2 = Ideas of guilt

3 = Present illness is a punishment; delusions of guilt

4 = Hallucinations of guilt


0 = Absent

1 = Feels life is not worth living

2 = Wishes he/she were dead

3 = Suicidal ideas or gestures

4 = Attempts at suicide

Insomnia — initial

(Difficulty in falling asleep)

0 = Absent

1 = Occasional

2 = Frequent

Insomnia — middle (complaints of being restless and disturbed during the night; waking during the night)

0 = Absent

1 = Occasional

2 = Frequent

Insomnia — delayed (waking in early hours of the morning and being unable to fall asleep again)

0 = Absent

1 = Occasional

2 = Frequent

Work and interests

0 = No difficulty

1 = Feelings of incapacity, listlessness, indecision, and vacillation

2 = Loss of interest in hobbies, decreased social activities

3 = Productivity decreased

4 = Unable to work. Stopped working because of present illness only. (Absence from work after treatment or recovery may rate a lower score.)

Agitation (restlessness associated with anxiety)

0 = Absent

1 = Occasional

2 = Frequent

Anxiety — psychic

0 = No difficulty

1 = Tension and irritability

2 = Worrying about minor matters

3 = Apprehensive attitude

4 = Fears

Anxiety — somatic (gastrointestinal issues, digestion problems, cardiovascular issues, palpitations, headaches, respiratory issues, genito-urinary problems, etc.)

0 = Absent

1 = Mild

2 = Moderate

3 = Severe

4 = Incapacitating

Somatic symptoms — gastrointestinal (loss of appetite, heavy feeling in abdomen, constipation)

0 = Absent

1 = Mild

2 = Severe

Somatic symptoms — general (heaviness in limbs, back, or head; diffuse backache; loss of energy and fatigability)

0 = Absent

1 = Mild

2 = Severe

Genital symptoms (loss of libido, menstrual disturbances)

0 = Absent

1 = Mild

2 = Severe


0 = Not present

1 = Self-absorption (bodily)

2 = Preoccupation with health

3 = Querulous attitude

4 = Hypochondriacal delusions

Weight loss

0 = No weight loss

1 = Slight

2 = Obvious or severe

Insight (Insight must be interpreted in terms of the patient’s understanding and background.)

0 = No loss

1 = Partial or doubtful loss

2 = Loss of insight

Self-reported depression survey questions

The following 10 questions are based on the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), which is available in the public domain. Individuals can administer it themselves, or healthcare professionals can use it.

In the past few weeks, how often have you experienced the following:

Little interest or pleasure in doing things

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half of the days
  • Nearly every day

Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half of the days
  • Nearly every day

Trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half of the days
  • Nearly every day

Feeling tired or having little energy

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half of the days
  • Nearly every day

Poor appetite or overeating

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half the days
  • Nearly every day

Feeling bad about yourself or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half the days
  • Nearly every day

Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half the days
  • Nearly every day

Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half the days
  • Nearly every day

Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself

  • Not at all
  • Several days
  • More than half the days
  • Nearly every day

If you’ve had any days with the issues above, how difficult have these problems made it for you at work, home, school, or with other people?

  • Not difficult at all
  • Somewhat difficult
  • Very difficult
  • Extremely difficult

Additional self-administered depression survey questions

The following 14 questions come from the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) which includes self-reported items in a multiple-choice format.

Please select the response that best describes how you’ve been feeling during the past two weeks:


  • I don’t feel sad.
  • I feel sad.
  • I’m sad all the time and can’t snap out of it.
  • I’m so sad and unhappy that I can’t stand it.

The future

  • I’m not particularly discouraged about the future.
  • I feel discouraged about the future.
  • I feel I have nothing to look forward to.
  • I feel the future is hopeless and that things can’t improve.

Past failure

  • I don’t feel like a failure.
  • I feel I have failed more than the average person.
  • As I look back on my life, all I can see is a lot of failures.
  • I feel I’m a complete failure as a person.

Loss of pleasure

  • I get as much satisfaction out of things as I used to.
  • I don’t enjoy things the way I used to.
  • I don’t get real satisfaction out of anything anymore.
  • I’m dissatisfied or bored with everything.

Feelings of guilt

  • I don’t feel particularly guilty.
  • I feel guilty a good part of the time.
  • I feel quite guilty most of the time.
  • I feel guilty all of the time.


  • I don’t feel disappointed in myself.
  • I’m disappointed in myself.
  • I’m disgusted with myself.
  • I hate myself.


  • I don’t feel I’m any worse than anybody else.
  • I’m critical of myself for my weaknesses or mistakes.
  • I blame myself all the time for my faults.
  • I blame myself for everything bad that happens.


  • I don’t cry any more than usual.
  • I cry more now than I used to.
  • I cry all the time now.
  • I used to be able to cry, but now I can’t cry even though I want to.

Irritation level

  • I’m no more irritated by things than I ever was.
  • I’m slightly more irritated now than usual.
  • I’m quite annoyed or irritated much of the time.
  • I feel irritated all the time.

Interest in others

  • I haven’t lost interest in other people.
  • I’m less interested in other people than I used to be.
  • I’ve lost most of my interest in other people.
  • I’ve lost all of my interest in other people.


  • I make decisions about as well as I ever could.
  • I put off making decisions more than I used to.
  • I have greater difficulty with making decisions now than I used to.
  • I can’t make decisions at all anymore.


  • I don’t feel that I look any worse than I used to.
  • I’m worried that I look old or unattractive.
  • I feel there are permanent changes in my appearance that make me look unattractive.
  • I believe that I look ugly.


  • I can work about as well as before.
  • It takes an extra effort to get started at doing something.
  • I have to push myself very hard to do anything.
  • I can’t do any work at all.

Health concerns

  • I’m no more worried about my health than usual.
  • I’m worried about physical problems like aches, pains, upset stomach, or constipation.
  • I’m very worried about physical problems, and it’s hard to think of much else.
  • I’m so worried about my physical problems that I can’t think of anything else.

Again, it’s important to remember that a depression rating on its own is not a formal diagnosis, but rather an indication that an individual may have some of the symptoms of depression. While a self-reported depression assessment can be useful for determining whether someone should seek professional help, only a qualified mental health practitioner can diagnose depression and other mental health conditions.

Tips for creating an online depression survey with Jotform

Creating an online depression survey is simple with Jotform. You can use this depression assessment template or this depression screening survey to screen patients online for depression. Jotform’s drag-and-drop functionality makes it easy to customize your survey to fit your needs. You can add different types of survey questions, set up conditional logic, and integrate your survey with over 100 apps, like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Airtable.

You can also create a form from scratch using different question types to collect the exact data you need. Jotform question types include open-ended, closed-ended, single-choice, multiple-choice, short text, long text, yes/no, ranking questions, demographic questions, and many more.

Filling out these surveys is also easy for patients, as they’re accessible on any device. You can easily track form submissions in Jotform Tables, which allows you to collect, organize, and manage data in an all-in-one workspace. Plus, you can share the submissions in one click for seamless collaboration or you can send them to a psychiatrist or clinician to sign off on via Jotform Approvals.

When you need to review and assess survey responses, you can use our free Form Calculation widget to measure numerical answers. Simply choose the fields you’d like to add, subtract, multiply, or divide, and the widget will automatically perform the calculation and display the result.

Photo by Timur Weber

Kimberly Houston is a conversion-focused marketing copywriter. She loves helping established creative service providers attract and convert their ideal clients with personality-driven web and email copy, so they can stand out online, and get more business, bookings, and sales.

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