The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)
Understanding The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)
The DASS is made up of three scales: depression, anxiety and stress. These scales provide a more complete picture of the patient's condition. Each scale contains 14 questions that measure anxiety and stress. Each scale contains subscales that have anywhere from two and five questions. However, the items are not clustered within a scale. Instead, they are randomly scattered throughout the entire DASS. The primary purpose of the DASS is to measure arousal, anxiety stress and depression.
Understanding the Depression Scale
The Depression Scale measures the patient's level of depression. To measure depression, the scale makes a series of statements regarding the patient's outlook on life and on themselves. Patients who score high are self-disparaging and are convinced that their life has no value or meaning. Their outlook on the future is pessimistic and they do not have the ability to experience satisfaction or find enjoyment in anything. They have no initiative, are uninterested, and are unable to involve themselves socially. Overall, they were gloomy and dispirited.
Understanding the Anxiety Scale
Patients who score high on the Anxiety Scale exhibit trembling and shakiness. They feel panicky, apprehensive, worried about their performance and are afraid of losing control. Physically, they report breathing difficulties, sweaty palms, a pounding heart and a dry mouth.
Understanding the Stress Scale
Characteristics of patients who score high on the Stress Scale include symptoms of stress such as tension and the inability to relax. Over-arousal, easily startled and edgy or jumpy are other symptoms as well as irritability and nervousness. They are intolerant of delay, waiting or interruption.
Using the DASS as a Diagnostic Tool
Diagnosing and measuring anxiety and stress using the DASS is done on a dimensional conception of either depression, anxiety or stress as opposed to a categorical conception of the disorder. While the DASS helps to distinguish between the different disorders, it also identifies the degree of the different disorder. It measures to what extent the patient experiences the symptoms. This scale is an effective way to measure anxiety and stress.