Center for Epidemiological Studies

Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC) 

A Note From The Depressed Child

 

            The following test is reproduced from the Bright Futures books identified further at the bottom of this web page, Bright Futures.  The Depressed Child recommends the two-volume set as a useful and thought-provoking collection of materials for educating parents to mental health issues with children and ideas for raising mentally healthy children.  The information may be elementary to some, but a good primer for others.  The information on the “Other Conditions” page of this web site is summarized from information in Volume I of the Bright Futures books. Visit the website www.brightfutures.org for more information.

            The test below is reproduced by Bright Futures in a volume primarily intended for medical practitioners, such as pediatricians, who need to be alerted to mental health problems in children.  It is a self-test by the child, although it obviously also is a guideline to clues parents should watch for in their children if they are worried about possible depression.  The Depressed Child suggests that a parent have a pediatrician, teacher or other adult supervise use of this test if it is to be formally applied, since administration by the parent may be more likely to result in less than candid answers.

            Of course, any child could answer these questions in a way that signals depression if he or she is having “a bad day” or even “a bad week.”  Parents should be careful not too give too much weight to preliminary tests such as these, whether the result is negative (i.e., no signs of depression) or positive (results show depression).  As always, the Depressed Child recommends that loving parents Follow Your Instincts, Know Your Child, and Learn for Yourself, while also obtaining professional help if you are concerned about your child’s behavior.  [End note from The Depressed Child].

 

Instructions for Use

 

            The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC) is a 20-item self-report depression inventory with possible scores ranging from 0 to 60.  Each response to an item is scored as follows:

 

0 = “Not At All”

 

1 = “A Little”

 

2 =  “Some”

 

3 = “A Lot”

 

            However, items 4, 8, 12 and 16 are phrased positively, and thus are scored in the opposite order:

 

3 = “Not At All”

 

2 =  “A Little”

 

1 = “Some”

 

0 = “A Lot”

 

            Higher CES-DC scores indicate increasing levels of depression.  Weissman et al. (1980), the developers of the CES-DC, have used the cutoff score of 15 as being suggestive of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents.  That is, scores over 15 can be indicative of significant levels of depressive symptoms.

            Remember that screening for depression can be complex and is only an initial step.  Further evaluation is required for children and adolescents identified through a screening process.  Further evaluation is also warranted for children or adolescents who exhibit depressive symptoms but who do not screen positive.

 

Instructions:

            Below is a list of the ways you might have felt or acted.  Please check how much you have felt this way during the past week.

 

 

During the Past week

Not At All

A Little

Some

A Lot

1.

I was bothered by things that usually don’t bother me.

 

________

 

_______

 

_______

 

_______

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.

I did not feel like eating, I wasn’t very hungry.

 

________

 

_______

 

_______

 

_______

 

3.

 

I wasn’t able to feel happy, even when my family or friends tried to help me feel better.

 

 

 

 

________

 

 

 

 

_______

 

 

 

 

_______

 

 

 

 

_______

 

4.

 

I felt like I was just as good as other kids..

 

 

________

 

 

_______

 

 

_______

 

 

_______

 

5.

I felt like I couldn’t pay attention to what I was doing.

 

________

 

_______

 

________

 

_______

 

 

 

During the past week

Not At All

A Little

Some

A Lot

 

6.

 

I felt down and unhappy.

 

________

 

_______

 

_________

 

_______

 

7.

 

I felt like I was too tired to do things.

 

 

________

 

 

_______

 

 

_________

 

 

_______

 

8.

 

I felt like something good was going to happen.

 

 

________

 

 

_______

 

 

_________

 

 

_______

 

9.

 

I felt like things I did before didn’t work out right.

 

 

________

 

 

_______

 

 

_________

 

 

_______

 

10.

 

I felt scared.

 

________

 

_______

 

_________

 

_______

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the past week

Not At All

A Little

Some

A Lot

 

11.

 

I didn’t sleep as well as I usually sleep.

 

 

________

 

 

_______

 

 

_________

 

 

_______

 

12.

 

I was happy.

 

________

 

_______

 

_________

 

_______

 

13.

 

I was more quiet than usual.

 

________

 

_______

 

_________

 

_______

 

14.

 

I felt lonely, like I didn’t have any friends.

 

 

________

 

 

_______

 

 

_________

 

 

_______

 

15.

 

I felt like kids I know were not friendly or that they didn’t want to be with me.

 

 

 

________

 

 

 

_______

 

 

 

_________

 

 

 

_______

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the past week

Not At All

A Little

Some

A Lot

 

16.

 

I had a good time

 

________

 

_______

 

_________

 

_______

 

17.

 

I felt like crying.

 

________

 

_______

 

_________

 

_______

 

 

 

 

 

 

18.

I felt sad.

________

_______

_________

_______

 

 

 

 

 

 

19.

I felt people didn’t like me.

________

_______

_________

_______

 

 

 

 

 

 

20.

It was hard to get started doing things.

 

________

 

_______

 

_________

 

_______

 


References:

 

            Weissman MM, Orvaschel H, Padian N. 1980.  Children’s symptom and social functioning self-report scales:  Comparison of mothers’ and children’s reports.  Journal of Nervous Mental Disorders 168 (12): 736-740.

 

            Faulstich ME, Carey MP, Ruggiero L, et al. 1986.  Assessment of depression in childhood and adolescence:  An evaluation of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC).  American Journal of Psychiatry 143 (8): 1024-27.


 

Center for Epidemiological Studies

Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC)

 

Reproduced from Bright Futures in Practice, Volume II, Mental Health Tool Kit. Jellinek, Michael, M.D.; Patel, Bina P., M.D.; Froehle, Mary, Ph.D., editors.  National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health, Georgetown University, Arlington, VA.

 

Copies of  the 148 page Mental Health Tool Kit and its companion, Volume I, Practice Guide, may be obtained from:

 

Bright Futures Distribution Center

C/o Rockville Mailing Service

Dept. B, 751 East Gude Drive

Rockville, MD 20850-1356

(301) 279-8890   (301) 559-5167 fax

See also Bright Futures web site:  www.brightfutures.org

 DISCLAIMER:  Unless otherwise indicated, all commentary and information on this web site is provided by persons who have no formal training in medicine or mental health.  You should weigh the information and comment on this site in consultation with a mental health professional.