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Ode to the PHQ-9

Posted by Elizabeth Till on Oct 5, 2017 10:42:20 AM

depressed_woman_at_the_beach.jpgToday is Depression Screening Day. On such an auspicious occasion, we wanted to share a few words of our appreciation to the PHQ-9, an ode of sorts.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this acryonym (it has less name recognition then FBI or LOL), it’s a tool those focused on Depression count on each and every day. It stands for Personal Health Questionnaire-9. It’s on our website and is a part of the measures we request from patients. It’s a part of our daily practice. The PHQ-9 gets the job done.

We aren’t the only fans. Even the mammoth Google has taken a liking to the PHQ-9. They recently partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to reach out to people who may be sufferering from depression. When someone searches for “depression” or “clinical depression”, the PHQ-9 is available directly from their search. It may help people become more aware of their potential depression and perhaps seek help earlier. Go PHQ-9!


We love how easy it is to share the PHQ-9. In commemoration of National Depression Awareness Month, we’ve placed a link on the homepage of our website that allows someone to read, download, or send a packet with the PHQ-9- and some frequently asked questions on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the fastest growing treatment for depression in psychiatry, directly to a friend, relative or healthcare provider. We hope this makes it easy for people who may be concerned about their loved one or their own mental health. (The package can also be sent to your doctor.) The PHQ-9 is easy to share- and sharing is caring.

The PHQ-9 has nine questions (hense the name.) They’re quick though thoughtful queries regarding everyday activities and feelings. At the end, you get a score that you can share with your doctor. Fast and functional, the PHQ-9 is both simple and strong. Three minutes or less to fill out!

It’s a collaborative tool. While people fill it out on their own, the scores are shared with their physician and, in the case of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the technician that you see each day during treatment will also review it. This nurtures an alliance with your care management team. After all, we’re all in this together.

We rely on the PHQ-9 for diagnostics and helping understand how the treatments are working. It gives us the ability to review responses and make any needed adjustments. Our patients fill out the tool each week, and afterwards, it is discussed with them by their physician as part of a check-in. It’s an important ingredient in our recipe towards recovery.

It is a tool used with insurances. It helps provide a common test that enables insurance  companies to understand the effectiveness of treatment. As there is no blood test or xray or MRI for depression, the PHQ-9 gives more impetus for reimbursement. Everyone likes a winner!

So here's to Depression Screening Day to our ever reliant, easy, fast, helpful PHQ-9. And here’s to many more years of helping one another spread the awareness on depression and facilitate recovery. 

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