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Published: June 24, 2017
Eric Mason

Beck Depression Inventory-II



Depression is, perhaps, the most commonly experienced mental disorder. As much as 21% of the population report having experienced symptoms that may be diagnosed as depression. Mood disorders are associated with significant functional impairment. Therefore, psychological measures that are valid and reliable in identifying depression are in important in the mental health treatment field (Carl & Barlow, 2014). .

The Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) is one of the most widely used psychological tests used to measure depression. It was found to have high concurrent validity as it correlated well with clinician ratings of depression in one study at r = .72.  In addition, it has high convergent validity as it correlated highly with quality of life ratings, such as the WHOQOL-BREF at .66. Furthermore, internal consistency was found to be good to excellent (alpha = .93) (Guay, 2015).

The BDI-II is a self-report measure and consists of 21 items that each tap into different symptoms of depression. Under each item, clients are asked to circle one of four statements that most accurately described how they felt over the past two weeks. Each statement reflects a different level of intensity, respectively, of the particular depressive symptom being evaluated.  Higher overall scores are indicative of more intensive depressive symptoms (Cohen, 2013).


An example of questions from the BDI-II are below:



  • I am not discouraged about my future.
  • I feel more discouraged about my future that I used to be.
  • I do not expect things to work out for me.
  • I feel my future is hopeless and will only get worse.



  • I feel the same about myself as ever.
  • I have lost confidence in myself.
  • I am disappointed in myself.
  • I dislike myself.


“As awareness of the link between culture and mental health increases, the need to determine the utility of clinical instruments across cultures grows as well (Talkvosky & Norton, 2015).” A recent study found that the psychometric properties of BDI-II are sound across different races, nationalities, and cultural groups. Therefore, it is deemed to be appropriate to administer the BDI-II to diverse populations (Talkvosky & Norton, 2015).

Although multiple studies have found that the BDI-II has high convergent and divergent validity, the items on the BDI-II are said to be very transparent. Therefore, it is not recommended as the sole psychological test to be used, especially for clients who may be motivated to fake good or fake bad. It is recommended to administer additional psychological tests, such as the MMPI-II. Another concern is that some studies have found that the BDI-II may not be consistent in discriminating between symptoms of depression from symptoms of anxiety (Cohen, 2013).

Nevertheless, on average, clients with depression and mood disorders tend to have higher scores on the BDI-II than non-depressed clients. Overall, the BDI-II has proved to be a highly reliable and valid measure in identifying depressive symptoms. In addition, it is easily/quickly administered (self-administered), as well as easily scored (Bently, 2013).



Bentley, K., et al. (2014). Development and validation of the overall depression severity and

impairment scale. Psychological Assessment, 26, 3, 815-830.


Cohen, R., Swerdlik, M., & Sturman, E. (2013). Psychological Testing and Assessment: An

            Introduction to Tests and Measurement. (8th ed.). International Edition: McGraw-Hill.


Fortin, et al. (2015).Validation of the WHOQOL-BREF in a sample of male

treatment-seeking veterans. Military Psychology, 27, 2. 85-92.



Talkovsky, A., & Norton, P. (2015). The mood and anxiety symptoms questionnaire across

four ethnoracial groups in an undergraduate sample. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 85, 5 431-440.



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