The use of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale in adolescents and young adults

J Youth Adolesc. 1991 Apr;20(2):149-66. doi: 10.1007/BF01537606.


The existence of depression in children and adolescents is well established, but debate remains about the phenomenology of the depressive syndrome in the young. In order to discover possible age differences in rates and etiology, the definition and measurement of depression must be comparable across the ages to be studied. A widely used self-report depression symptom scale, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) Scale, was administered to convenient (and not necessarily representative) samples of high school and college students. The scores and patterns of responses to the 20 symptom items of the scale were compared with already existing data from junior high school students, from depressed patients, and from a representative community sample of adults and young adults. The results of the analyses suggest that the CES-D Scale is acceptable and reliable in all the groups studied. The scores of the junior high school group may be inflated by an excess of transient symptoms and should be interpreted with caution, but the scale seems to be very suitable for the high school and older groups.