Are You Feeling Depressed? Use The Beck Depression Inventory To Understand Your Feelings

Last Update on August 29, 2022 : Published on December 8, 2021
Beck Depression Inventory

One of the most common mental health disorders, around the world, is depression, don’t you agree? And with the recent global pandemic, the rise in depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues have been staggering.

Depression’s major contributors can be genetics, chemical imbalance in the brain, environmental factors, or a combination of the above. To measure the severity of depression, The Beck Depression Inventory was created and even now, many physicians use this depression test to determine the seriousness of one’s symptoms of depression.

Let’s take a look at the Beck Depression Inventory, the history behind it, and how it can be used to check one’s feelings.

Who Created The Beck Depression Inventory?

father of cognitive therapy

Pic credit: The New York Times

The “father of cognitive therapy”, Aaron Temkin Beck (1921-2021) was an American psychiatrist who introduced the Beck Depression Inventory in 1961 to help determine a person’s mental state. The Beck Depression Inventory is still one of the most popular (and commonly) used questionnaires to evaluate the severity of depression and its symptoms.

While the questionnaire has been revised over time, it is still considered effective.

What Is The Beck Depression Inventory?

Beck’s depression inventory test is a tool that was made to track symptoms of depression and their impact on behaviors and attitudes of teens and adults. And while psychologists might use this tool, the Beck depression inventory test can be used for self-evaluation as well – outside clinical settings.

The Beck Depression Inventory is a 21-item self-reporting tool created for teens and adults alike to help determine the type of depression one is struggling with and what kind of help they can seek.

Please note that this tool/questionnaire is not an official diagnostic tool. It is a self-evaluation and self-reporting questionnaire. If you have any questions regarding your symptoms and their severity, please contact your mental health provider or you can seek help by reaching out to a professional mental health counselor.

To better understand how Beck’s depression inventory test works, let’s first take a look at the most common symptoms of depression.

Signs & Symptoms Of Depression

While it is OK to experience feelings of sadness and grief, there are severe disorders that can cause someone to experience constant feelings of sadness, self-hatred, and loss of interest, negative thinking, and much more. If left untreated, these feelings can majorly influence your quality of life.

The 21 questions self-evaluating Beck Depression Inventory assesses the major symptoms of depression including hopelessness and irritability to understand how severe an individual’s symptoms are.

Note that each of the 21-items in the Beck Depression Inventory test is carefully designed to fit the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-5.

Here are some of the most common signs of depression:

  • Self-Hatred. One may experience feelings and thoughts about being worthless and self-dislike.
  • Anxiety. Feelings of anger, having angry outbursts, feeling irritable, and experiencing disappointment.
  • Loss of interest. Depression can cause you to lose pleasure in things that bring you joy. If you find yourself withdrawing from your interests that you used to look forward to, then this could be a symptom of depression.
  • Changes in sleep. Insomnia or sleeping too much is also a common sign of depression so if you’ve been experiencing such then it’s another sign you shouldn’t ignore.
  • Changes in appetite. Weight and appetite changes can differ depending on the person experiencing depression. You may be losing, gaining weight, or might notice variations in your eating habits.
  • Loss of energy. If you’re experiencing depression then you might have slow thinking, slurred speech, or slow body movements that can cause problems such as trouble concentrating and poor decision-making.
  • Physical aches. You may also experience joint pain or headaches. Depression and anxiety can negatively impact your immune system.
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Depression can also cause one to think about hurting themselves, fatally. So if you, or someone you know, is thinking about suicide, you need to get immediate help from either a crisis prevention hotline or reach out to your nearest emergency service.

It is important to understand that not all experience the same symptoms (or all the symptoms), the symptoms of depression may vary from person to person and their respective experiences.

If you’re thinking about suicide or you believe someone you know is at risk, then please immediately reach out to your local helpline number. You can also contact one of these helpline numbers:

How To Use The Beck Depression Inventory?

Beck’s Depression Inventory can be self-scored and conducted from either the comfort of your home or in a mental healthcare clinic. In this 21-item, multiple-choice questionnaire, you will be asked to rate 21 symptoms of depression on a scale of 0-3, based on their intensity.

Remember, each symptom on the Beck Depression Inventory is designed to fit the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-5. It will take only 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire, so it isn’t very time-consuming either.

For example:

0: I do not feel sad.

1: I feel sad.

2: I am sad all the time, and I can’t snap out of it.

3. I am so sad and unhappy that I can’t stand it.


0: I don’t feel disappointed in myself.

1: I am disappointed in myself.

2: I am disgusted with myself.

3: I hate myself.

You can take the test here.

How To Score Beck Depression Inventory?

Once you complete the 21-item questionnaire, your scoring will be pretty straightforward and plain. All you need to do is to add the score, the rate you gave each of the 21 questions (0-3).

What your total score will be will determine the severity of your depression. The score you’ll get can range anywhere between 0-63.

Here is the scoring range and their corresponding answers:

A score of 1-10: These ups and downs are considered normal

A score of 11-16: Mild mood disturbance

A score of 17-20: Borderline clinical depression

A score of 21-30: Moderate depression

A score of 31-40: Severe depression

A score of 40+: Extreme depression

If you get a score between 1-10, then your mood swings can be considered normal and not too severe, however, if you score 40 or above then you might be struggling with extreme depression and may require immediate assistance.

Again, this is not an official diagnosis if you’re taking Beck’s depression inventory test without professional supervision, so you need to reach out to a mental health counselor for a diagnosis. The Beck Depression Inventory interpretation must be made by a professional counselor if you’re unsure.

Fortunately, help is available!

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression such as extreme hopelessness, irritability, thoughts of self-harm, or suicide, you can find treatment with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

Depression is curable but you need to remember that the treatment can take time, so don’t lose hope. With some self-help such as changing your lifestyle, going to therapy regularly, and taking medications on time, you can learn to cope with your symptoms and live a healthier life.

Start your journey back to a healthier life by taking the first step. Self-evaluate your symptoms by completing the Beck Depression Inventory. This step is just the start to bring a more positive and healthy change in your life!

We’re here for you too! If you need our help, you can reach out to us by writing to us at or DM us on social media. If you have any questions, you can leave your thoughts in the comments below!

You are not alone!

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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