A readily available screening tool that allows dentists to assess level of depression is critical to identify the high number of individuals with undiagnosed mental disorders. A recent investigation demonstrated that dentists can effectively evaluate patients to identify both undiagnosed and undertreated depression with an eight question survey instrument, the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression Scale (PHQ8) (Figure 4).78,79 This may allow for dental healthcare practitioners to evaluate levels of depression in their patients and to refer patients to appropriate medical healthcare professionals. Furthermore, education and resources should be provided for individuals who are treating patients with diagnosed anxiety and depression so that they can discuss the oral implications of these diseases and the medications used to treat the diseases with patients to allow for continued monitoring and treatment of patients’ oral health.
Personal Health Questionnaire
Depression Scale (PHQ-8)
Over the last two weeks, how often have you been bothered by any of the following problems? (circle one number on each line)
How often during the past 2 weeks were you bothered by…
If two consecutive numbers are circled, score the higher (more distress) number. If the numbers are not consecutive, do not score the item. Score is the sum of the 8 items. If more than 1 item missing, set the value of the scale to missing. A score of 10 or greater is considered major depression, 20 or more is severe major depression.