Beck Depression Inventory

Beck Depression Inventory Analysis

Miguel Carrasco, Holly England, Sunny Ledding, Robert Pope, Melanie Simpson


February 16, 2011
Heather Suggs

Beck Depression Inventory Analysis

Each year about 15 million adult Americans suffer from clinical depression. That is 8% of the American population age 18 and over (Depression Treatment, Signs, Medication, Causes, Test at Clinical Depression Center, 2010). Often people are depressed but unaware of the numerous treatments available to them. Seeking professional help from a physician or therapist is the first step to receive the proper treatment. There are various ways for a psychologist to determine if a person suffers from depression. One way to aid in the diagnosis is to use the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). The BDI is a self administered test that measures the patient’s experiences and symptoms that are associated with depression. This paper includes a summary of two articles, comparing and contrasting these articles, and determining who is qualified to administer the BDI. Differentiating between the populations for which the BDI measures and whether the test is valid or invalid are also discussed. Summary of 1st BDI Article

The article summarized is a review of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) by Janet F. Carlson, Associate Professor, Counseling and Psychological Services Department, State University of New York at Oswego, Oswego, NY.

The BDI is a well-known and widely used self report inventory that was implemented for the purpose of finding the severity of depression in adults and adolescents. In 1961 Beck and his associates developed the BDI and later revised the report in 1971, at which time it was introduced to the Center for Cognitive Therapy (CCT) at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School (Beck & Steer, 1993). Carlson (2010) discusses in this article the Applications, Administering, Scoring, and Interpretation, Technical Aspects, and Critiques of the BDI.

According to Carlson (2010), the application of the BDI has expanded well beyond its original intent, but indicates that it is a good form of screening depression for clinicians. She goes on to explain how practitioners have found the BDI useful in other contexts such as research, screening, and the assessment of therapeutic outcomes.

The administering, scoring, and interpretation of the BDI may be administered individually or in a group setting, in written or oral form. Carlson (2010) goes on to explain that the 1993 version of the BDI taps into more trait aspects of depression instead of the earlier versions that measured state aspects of depression. The test takes about 15 minutes, and is based on a total score from zero to 63. Among depressed patients zero to nine denotes minimal depression and 30 to 63 is severe depression. Within the normal population, total scores of 15 may indicate possible depression.

The technical aspects of the BDI focus on the reliability and validity of the test manual. Carlson (2010), states that the test manual takes into account gender and race distribution of normative samples and normative-outpatient samples. The failure she notes is that the test manual is not as good as the BDI literature therefore those giving the test should read and research the literature before administering the test.

Carlson’s critique is favorable and supportive of the BDI when used in the intended population. She also recognizes that the BDI has been around 35 years, and is a solid contributor in measuring depression. Although she states that the BDI is best used as a screening instrument for depression, and should not serve as the sole means by which depression is assessed. Summary of 2nd BDI Article

Luty and O’Gara (2006) stated the original self-administered BDI test containing 21 items, has been used in a variety of settings however, the test has not been validated against another instrument in depressed alcohol-dependent people. The...

References: Beck, A. T., & Steer, R. (1993). Beck Depression Inventory [1993 Revised]. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Beck, A.T., Ward, C.H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory for measuring depression. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Carlson, J. (2010).  Beck Depression Inventory [1993 Revised] . The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska and the Buros Center for Testing, 13(31),. Doi: Mental Measurements Yearbook
Depression Treatment, Signs, Medication, Causes, Test at Clinical Depression Center (2010).
Depression statistics – facts. teen depression. Retrieved from
DSM-IV (2000). American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th ed. ISBN 0890420254
Luty, J., & O’Gara, C. (2006). International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice. Vol. 10
Issue 1, p45-51, 7p, 4 Charts; DOI: 10.1080/13651500500410117
The Psychological Corporation. (n.d.). Beck Depression Inventory - 2nd Edition. Retrieved from
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