Mini Mental Status Exam for Depression

Explanations: MMSE-NR

Findings in the MMSE or AMT may prompt the clinician to do further screening and testing. One of these tests may be the Mental Status Examination (MSE), which is more comprehensive than the MMSE or AMT. The following table compares delirium, dementia and depression and the indications that may be found during a MSE.

Examination item Dementia Depression Delirium
General appearance Varies according to severity of symptoms and assistance with ADLs
Behaviour Variable Possible psychomotor retardation or agitation Restlessness, picking at clothes or bedclothes
Affect Flat, apathetic, may be irritable Depressed, tearful, apathetic, irritable

May be tearful, giggly, and anxious

May fluctuate

Thought stream May be normal, depends on degree of impairment Normal to slow

Not fluent


Thought form Varies and depends on degree of impairment Usually normal. Perhaps some “blocking” Thought disorder
Thought content Poverty of thought and content Hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, poverty, emptiness, unworthiness or paranoia. There may be suicidal ideas or intent. Possible mood-congruent delusions or somatic complaints such as constipation or contamination. There may be delusional beliefs, paranoia, grandiose or depressive and negative thoughts
Perception Occasional hallucinatory experiences (usually auditory). May have periods of misidentification Occasional hallucinatory experiences that are congruent with the depressive thought processes.

Frequent florid and bizarre hallucinations

Cognition Varying degrees of Impairment dependant on severity Disordered May be impaired dependant on severity
Attention and concentration Usually intact May be poor but can be engaged Very poor
Orientation Poor Usually unaffected but may be uninterested Absent
Short term memory Usually intact but may not want to be bothered Absent or fluctuates

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