Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale – 21 (DASS-21): The DASS-21 is the short form of the DASS-42, a self-report scale designed to measure the emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress. The principal value of the DASS in a clinical setting is to clarify the locus of emotional disturbance, as part of the broader task of clinical assessment. The essential function of the DASS is to assess the severity of the core symptoms of Depression, Anxiety and Stress. Accordingly, the DASS allows not only a way to measure the severity of a patient’s symptoms but a means by which a patient’s response to treatment can also be measured.
This is a screening instrument and practitioners should make a clinical judgment as to whether an individual needs further assessment for anxiety and depression. High scores on the DASS would certainly alert the clinician to a high level of distress in the patient and this would need to be explored further within the interview process. Similarly, low scores on the DASS should not be a substitute for a comprehensive clinical interview.