CES-D Scale: Definition & Uses

Instructor: Holly DeLuca

Holly has taught special education students and has a master's degree in special education

In this lesson, we will look at the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D Scale), which is a screening tool used for depression and depressive disorders. Definition and uses of the scale will be discussed.

Understanding the CES-D Scale

The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D Scale) is a self-screening tool that is widely used to measure symptoms of depression within the general population. Originally developed in 1977 by Laurie Radloff, the CES-D was revised in 2004 by William Eaton along with others. It is available for self-administration for free on the internet and can also be used over the phone.

The CES-D measures the examinee in nine different symptom areas. Below are the nine categories covered on the scale along with sample statements from each category:

1. Sadness - 'I feel that I am just as good as other people.'

2. Loss of Interest - 'I feel hopeful about the future.'

3. Appetite - 'I do not feel like eating; my appetite is poor.'

4. Sleep - 'My sleep is restless.'

5. Thinking/Concentration - 'I have trouble keeping my mind on what I am doing.'

6. Guilt/Worthlessness - 'I think my life has been a failure.'

7. Fatigue - 'I feel that everything I do is an effort.'

8. Movement - 'I cannot get 'going.'

9. Suicidal Ideation - 'I feel that people dislike me.'

Scoring of the CES-D

The scale has 20 statements--similar to the ones above--that cover the nine symptom topics. The examinee rates each statement on a scale of 0-4. Zero would indicate that the symptom occurs not at all or less than one day, and a 4 would indicate that the symptom has occurred nearly every day for 2 weeks or more.

The range of scores for the CES-D assessment is 0-60. When looking at the results of the screening, scores above 16 are considered to be indicative of significant depressive symptoms. Scores below 16 are not considered significant. In other words, a higher score indicates that more symptoms are present.

Since this tool is only used for screening purposes and is not a clinical diagnostic tool, it is recommended that it not be relied on exclusively to diagnose depression. It is merely a tool that can be used to indicate whether further evaluation is necessary.

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