The Beck depression scale is a common diagnostic tool for mental health professionals. They use the scale or inventory to help diagnose individuals and it can be used in a wide variety of settings. For individuals who question whether they are depressed or not, the Beck Depression Inventory can help them learn more.
The scale can be used with anyone as long as they have at least fifth or sixth grade reading level skills. Generally, those who are 13 or older will be able to take the inventory. The scale has been updated several time since its inception in the 1960s.
The BDI, as the scale is also known, features a 21 item self report scale. The questions measure different manifestations of depression, including aspects like social isolation, sadness, pessimism, guilt, and self accusation among other symptoms. The test takes about ten minutes to complete for most people and can give an indication about the presence and severity of a person's illness.
The scores on the inventory can tell a mental health professional about an individual's state of mind and whether the individual is suffering from depression. It's important to remember that the test isn't fool proof and that an individual could manipulate the scores if they didn't answer the questions honestly.
The overall reliability of the scale is a factor to keep in mind: taking the inventory at a different time can produce different results if the symptoms have increased in severity or gotten better since the first test. Experts also caution that the environment that the individual takes the test in can also influence results. Social expectations may influence certain answers if others are present.
The Beck Inventory does not produce a diagnosis, but it can be a tool in understanding whether the illness is present and how severe it is. Individuals should talk to their mental health professionals about the results and what those results might mean for diagnosis and treatment options.
If you are interested in learning more about the Beck Depression Scale, talk to a mental health professional about the inventory and what you can expect when you answer the questions. You should also talk to the professional about any symptoms that you may be having and what treatments may be available to help you.