Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition ( BDI-II )


Beck, A.T., Steer, R.A., & Brown, G.
Author Contact: 
Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Unit 3535 Market Street, Room 2032 Philadelphia, PA 19104 Fax: (215) 573-3717 Contact first author via e-mail.
Beck, A.T., Steer, R.A., & Brown, G.K. (1996). Manual for the Beck Depression Inventory-II. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.
To Obtain: 
Harcourt Assessment, Inc. 19500 Bulverde Road San Antonio, Texas 78259 Phone: 1-800-211-8378 Fax: 1-800-232-1223
The BDI-II is a widely used 21-item self-report inventory measuring the severity of depression in adolescents and adults. The BDI-II was revised in 1996 to be more consistent with DSM-IV criteria for depression. For example, individuals are asked to respond to each question based on a two-week time period rather than the one-week timeframe on the BDI. The BDI-II is widely used as an indicator of the severity of depression, but not as a diagnostic tool, and numerous studies provide evidence for its reliability and validity across different populations and cultural groups. It has also been used in numerous treatment outcome studies and in numerous studies with trauma-exposed individuals.
Theoretical Orientation Summary: 
The items on the BDI-II were developed to assess an individual's depressive symptoms based on the criteria found in the DSM-IV for depressive disorders.
Domains Assessed: 
Depression (cgiver)
Depression (child)
English (USA)
Age Range: 
13-80 Years
Measure Type: 
General Assessment
Number of Items: 
Measure Format: 
Time to Complete: 
Score Time: 
Education Level: 
Response Format: 
Rated on a 4-point Likert-type scale ranging from 0 to 3, based on severity of each item.
Materials Needed: 
Paper and pencil
Materials Notes: 
Items can be read aloud if necessary.Standardized scoring forms must be ordered through the Psychological Corporation. Spanish Record Forms are also available. Computerized scoring is also available. Materials (as of 6/05) available include:1. BDI-II manual: $402. Record Forms (pkg/100): $150 (Pricing is based on purchase of this package.)3. Spanish Record Forms (pkg/100): $1504. Scannable Record Forms (pkg/100): $150
Information Provided: 
Areas of concern/risks
Continuous assessment
Diagnostic info DSM IV
Raw Scores
Standard scores


Training to Administrator: 
Via manual/video
Training to Interpret: 
Not Available
Training Notes: 
Can be administered by paraprofessionals. Only mental health professionals with appropriate clinical training and experience should interpret the scores.


Global Rating: 
Psychometrically mature, used in multiple peer-reviewed articles by different people
Psychometric Norm Notes: 
The normative sample included outpatients from various clinics and hospitals located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky who were used as part of the measure development for the BDI-II. This population consisted of 317 females and 183 males; 91% Caucasian, 4% African American, 4% Asian American, and 1% Latino. The mean age was 37.20 (SD=15.91).
Clinical Cutoffs: 
Raw scores of 0 to 13 indicates minimal depression, 14 to 19 indicates mild depression, 20 to 28 indicates moderate depression, and 29 to 63 indicates severe depression.

Pros & Cons

1. The BDI-II is widely used and accepted as a measure of depressive symptomatology. 2. The BDI-II can be administered orally by an examiner to those with reading difficulties or problems with concentration. 3. The BDI-II is user-friendly; it is easy to administer and score. 4. It has been translated into languages other than English, and its psychometric properties have been established in numerous cultural groups including the deaf population. 5. The BDI-II is designed to assess state-related depression and could be used as a quick weekly screener prior to therapy sessions. 6. The measure has been found to be useful in detecting change in treatment-outcome studies.
1. Due to the face validity of the BDI-II, underreporting and overreporting may be likely. 2. Individuals with low education and some Spanish speakers have difficulty with the response format. 3. The procedure used to determine the cut scores may increase the likelihood of false positives or overdiagnoses of depression among clients. 4. The wording in some items asks the respondent to compare their current state to a prior one (e.g., than usual, as ever). Individuals with chronic trauma since childhood sometimes respond by circling a zero because they do not feel worse than "usual." 5. The normative sample is predominantly White (91%). 6. Although the measure can be used for adolescents, the norms were gathered with adults. 7. The majority of psychometric studies conducted with adolescents in the United States have involved predominantly Caucasian samples and have not included large numbers of individuals of lower socio-economic status. More research is needed on the use of the BDI-II with diverse groups of adolescents.

Author Comments

Author Comments: 
The author provided comments, which were incorporated.
Citation for Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D., Connie Wong, M.A.
Editor of Review: 
Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D., Robyn Igelman, M.A., Nicole Taylor, Ph.D., Madhur Kulkarni, M.S.
Last Updated: 
Wed, 06/08/2005
PDF Available: 

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