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What Is the Beck Depression Inventory and How to Use It

Beck depression inventory
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Depression is a frequent psychiatric condition in the US. As per a 2020 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC [1*] ), 18.4% of US adults have received a diagnosis of depression at some point. It has a negative impact on one’s feelings, thoughts, and behavior. Fortunately, it can be treated.

The symptoms of depression may vary from one person to another. But, there are still specific diagnostic criteria that help to identify if a person has the disorder or not. Additionally, the degree of depression can range from minor to severe. Knowing the intensity of your symptoms is crucial if you want to receive the most effective treatment. For this purpose, several tests [2*] have been developed for the accurate assessment of depression.

Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is the most widely used depression test. This helpful tool helps to understand whether a person requires medical attention for their symptoms and what is the extent of depression.

The overview of the Beck Depression Inventory will be discussed in this post. You can also take best online depression test on our website.

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What Is Beck's Depression Inventory?

Dr. Aaron T. Beck, a psychiatrist, created and published Beck depression inventory (BDI) [3*] in 1961. The test is used to evaluate the severity of depression and can also be used to track the effectiveness of treatment. A gradual decline in scores suggests that the person’s symptoms are getting better. Although the BDI is just a part of a diagnostic assessment and cannot replace it completely, it can aid doctors in diagnosing and monitoring.

The original BDI had 21 items, each representing a depressive symptom. The test was proven to have good validity and reliability by Dr. Beck and his associates. In both clinical settings and research, the BDI has been widely employed. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) underwent revisions, and the BDI was updated to reflect these changes in 1996. The most popular questionnaire version is the updated BDI, often known as the BDI-II [4*] .

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Items of BDI

The latest version of BDI, also known as the BDI-II, also consists of 21 items. Each question can only have one answer.

The items of BDI are divided into these categories [5*] to assess the following groups of symptoms:

  • Affective.
  • Cognitive.
  • Physiological.
  • Motivational.
  • Behavioral.

Some of the most prevalent depressive symptoms that the Beck Depression Inventory examines are listed below:

  • Self-dislike.
  • Agitation.
  • Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities.
  • Alterations in sleep.
  • Alterations in appetite.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Undiagnosed medical issues.
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Depression test online

How to Administer BDI?

Before attempting BDI, keep the following things in mind:

  • You must first grade each statement based on your current symptoms and condition throughout the previous two weeks and the test day.
  • If you believe that more than one statement accurately describes your condition, pick the one with the greater score on the 0–3 scale.
  • In addition to the standard four-point scale, items 16 (changes in the sleeping pattern) and 18 (changes in appetite) give you additional, more specific options for identifying your eating and sleeping patterns. However, when determining your results, these factors are not given any more weight than the others.
  • Make sure to conduct the test in a peaceful environment. Your full attention should be focused on the test.
  • Give yourself enough time to finish the test.
  • Try to assess your emotions, feelings, or behaviors as precisely as possible since you can only select one item from the four statements.

Take the BDI depression test online. Check the severity of your symptoms.

Beck Depression Inventory Scoring

BDI scoring is straightforward. In general, selecting the first option from a multiple-choice question (zero) means you don’t have the symptom, whereas selecting the last option (three) means you have serious difficulty with that particular symptom.

The scores from 0 to 3 recorded for each of the 21 questions must be added together. So, the results will range between 0 and 63. Here is a guide to interpreting the score obtained in this test for depression:

Range of scores

The severity of depressive symptoms


Normal ups & downs


Mild symptoms


Borderline depression


Moderate depression


Severe depression

40 and above

Extreme depression

Take Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) at MEDvidi

Your level of depression can be assessed with the online depression test. For instant and reliable results, use the online Beck depression inventory on MEDvidi.

However, it is important to discuss your symptoms with a mental health expert to receive the proper diagnosis if you are worried about your level of depression. Contact us today to book an appointment and receive personalized treatment.


+5 sources
  1. National, State-Level, and County-Level Prevalence Estimates of Adults Aged ≥18 Years Self-Reporting a Lifetime Diagnosis of Depression. (2023)
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  2. Depression Assessment Instruments
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  3. Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). (2020)
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  4. Reliability and validity of the Beck depression inventory--II with adolescent psychiatric inpatients. (2004)
    Source link
  5. The underlying structure of the Beck Depression Inventory II: A multidimensional scaling approach. (2008)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.