Depression Measures

In 1983, Eugene Levitt, Bernard Lubin, and James Brooks reported the results of the National Depression Survey, which attempted to determine the prevalence and correlates of depression in the general population. They interviewed more than 3,000 people, including 622 teenagers, who were randomly selected to be a representative sample of the entire United States' population. Subjects completed a brief self-report measure of depression and answered questions concerning their age, occupation, education, religion, and other variables.

Levitt, Lubin, and Brooks found that slightly more than 3 percent of the population was experiencing depression that was severe enough to warrant clinical intervention and so could be termed clinical depression. This figure is similar to that found by other investigators. In addition, Levitt, Lubin, and Brooks found that depression was related to sex, age, occupational status, and income. Depression was higher for subjects who were female, older, lower in occupational status, and either low or high in income (earning less than $6,000 or more than $25,000).

One of the most widely used measures of depression is the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Beck introduced this test in 1961 to assess the severity of depression in individuals who are known or suspected to have depression. The BDI has twenty-one items, each concerning a symptom of depression

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