Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale

The CESD is a screening test and outcome measure for depression and depressive disorder. The CESD measures symptoms defined by the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) for a major depressive episode. It can be used as a diagnostic and treatment monitoring tool.

Total number of questions


Administration method


Standardized cadence

Every week

Age range

Child/adolescent and adult versions are available



Scoring and interpretation

Scores on the CES-D range from 0 to 60, in which higher scores suggest a greater presence of depressive symptoms. A score of 15 or higher is interpreted to indicate a risk for depression. However, screening for depression is a complex process and scoring a 15 or higher on the CES-D should be followed by further evaluation.

Reliability and validity

The scale has been found reliable (Cronbach’s alpha >.85) in previous research (e.g., Hann et. al., 1999).

Additional information

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