The Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-42) is a self-report questionnaire developed by Professor Peter Lovibond of the University of New South Wales and is designed to measure distress along three axes namely Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. This measure proposes that physical anxiety (fear symptomatology) and mental stress (nervous tension and nervous energy) are strongly inter-related.
The expectation when completing the DASS-42 is that the individual is expected to respond to the specific items within the context of whether the symptoms were present over the week prior to the assessment.
While this report will provide a detailed overview of the core symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, and Stress, it is important to appreciate that it is not a diagnostic tool. Like all self-reporting clinical tools, the DASS-42 report has to be viewed in conjunction with a range of other collateral information and, most importantly, not be used as a substitute for a comprehensive clinical interview. The DASS-42 report was developed by Dr Gary C. Townsend of Skillworx Africa (Pty) Ltd.
Why measure depression, anxiety, and stress
The DASS-42 is a set of three self-report scales designed to measure the negative emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress. The DASS-42 is constructed to not merely measure conventionally defined emotional states, but to further the process of defining, understanding, and measuring these dimensions. For this reason, the DASS-42 offers considerable value to both researchers and professional clinicians. Understanding these mental health conditions are fundamental to early diagnosis and treatment.
Depression, anxiety, and stress very often manifest at the same time. It has been estimated that close to fifty percent of people with one mental health condition meet the criteria for two or more disorders. Research has in fact established that over fifty percent of the people with either anxiety, depression, or stress have the other conditions. While each of these conditions has its own causes, it is important to keep in mind that they may share similar symptoms and treatments. For this reason, the DASS-42 measures each of these constructs at the same time.
Participants undertaking the DASS-42 assessment receive a detailed report containing the three DASS-42 scales containing 42 items, divided into subscales of 14 depression, 14, anxiety, and 14 stress items with similar content namely:
DEPRESSION SCALE: dysphoria (a state of unease), hopelessness, devaluation of life, self-depreciation, lack of interest / involvement, anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), and inertia
ANXIETY SCALE: autonomic arousal, skeletal muscle effects, situational anxiety, and subjective experience of anxious affect
STRESS SCALE: difficulty relaxing, nervous arousal, being easily upset, agitated, irritable, over-reactive, and impatient
Benefits for the individual
The insights gained from the DASS-42 assessment will provide any individual with an objective idea of the presence or absence of Depression, Anxiety, or Stress. High scores on the DASS-42 are symptomatic of high levels of distress in the individual and assists the clinician and individual being assessed with supplementary information regarding the decision to further explore the condition with a formal clinical interview. Similarly, low scores on the DASS-42 should not be seen as a substitute for not pursuing a comprehensive clinical interview should there be other corroborating information suggesting so.
In addition, retesting may also offer insight into scales that are fluctuating while others are staying relatively high over time. This may further assist with flagging the presence of a co-existing disorder or some life event or problem which may need immediate treatment.
DASS-42 Personal Report
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