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Hamilton Depression Rating Scale

  1. Kenneth A. Kobak

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0402

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Kobak, K. A. 2010. Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1.

Author Information

  1. MedAvante Research Institute, Hamilton, NJ

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) is a clinician-administered rating scale to assess symptom severity in depressive disorders. First developed by Max Hamilton (1960), it is one of the most widely used outcome measures in antidepressant drug trials, and it is often the criterion measure against which other depression scales are validated. The original scale had 21 items. However, Hamilton later recommended dropping 4 items on account of lack of construct validity, resulting in the standard 17-item scale version. Some continue to use 21 items, and others have expanded the scale to 24 or 28 items. The scale was not designed as a diagnostic instrument; rather, it is intended to be used in patients otherwise diagnosed with depression. Each item is rated on either a 0–4 or 0–2 scale, the latter to be used for items where quantification of severity is difficult, and thus the item is rated as either probably or definitely present.


  • depression;
  • clinical rating scales;
  • assessment