Carnegie Mellon University

Depressive Symptoms


Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD) Short Form



Copyright Information

Available in the public domain

Primary References

1. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385-401.

2. Andresen, E. M., Carter, W. B., Malmgren, J. A., & Patrick, D. L. (1994), Screening for depression in well older adults: Evaluation of a short form of the CES-D. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 10, 77-84.


To assess depressive symptomatology in the general population.

Type of Measure

Established.  Short form versions of the CES-D have been found to be highly correlated with the full scale (r = .96) with little or no loss of sensitivity, specificity, or internal reliability (Shrout & Yager, 1989) and the 10-item scale administered in PMBC has been used extensively in epidemiologic research (e.g., Fried et al., 1991; Schulz, et al., 1997).


Items are presented as self-descriptive statements.  Respondents use a 4-point scale to rate the frequency with which they experienced the cognitions and affective and physical states described in the statements during the past week.


0 = Rarely or none of the time, 1 = Some of the time, 2 = Occasionally, 3 = Most of the time

Number of Items


Sample Items

  • I was bothered by things that don’t usually bother me
  • I felt that everything I did was an effort
  • I was happy (reversed)



  • In a community sample (Shrout & Yager, 1989): Internal consistency, Cronbach’s α = 0.84
  • In PMBC (n = 193): Internal consistency, Cronbach’s α = 0.68


The CES-D has been found to correlate with other measures of depressive symptoms and scores on the CES-D have been used to successfully identify cases of clinical depression.


Reverse Items: 5, 8
Sum items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5R, 6, 7, 8R, 9, 10


Depressive Symptoms Total Score

Additional References

1. Fried, L. P., Borhani, N. O., Enright, P., Furberg, C. D., Gardin, J. M., Kronmal, R. A., et al.  (1991). The Cardiovascular Health Study: design and rationaleAnnals of Epidemiology, 1, 263-276.

2. Schulz, R., Newsom, J., Mittelmark, M., Burton, L. Hirsch, C., & Jackson, S.  (1997). Health effects of caregiving: The caregiver health effects study: An ancillary study of the Cardiovascular Health Study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 19, 110-116.

3. Shrout, P. E., & Yager, T. J. (1989).  Reliability and validity of screening scales: Effect of reducing scale lengthJournal of Clinical Epidemiology, 42, 69-78.