Depression Detail
The scales described below can help identify a variety of symptoms affecting children and adolescents. Do not assume that a particular "score" on any rating scale or screening tool means a child has a particular disorder-these instruments are only one component of an evaluation. Diagnoses should be made only by a trained clinician after a thorough assessment. Symptoms suggestive of suicidal or harmful behaviors warrant immediate attention by a trained clinician.

Weinberg Depression Scale for Children and Adolescents (WDSCA)

The WDSCA self-report contains 56 yes/no items designed for individuals ages 5-21. This screening tool can be used as an initial assessment scale and can be repeated to measure response to treatments. It takes 3-5 minutes to complete.

It is available for purchase at:

Children's Depression Rating Scale-Revised (CDRS-R)

Modeled after the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, the CDRS-R is a clinical interview tool designed for assessing 6-12 year-olds, and it has also been used successfully for adolescents. The CDRS-R helps clinicians rate 17 symptom areas: impaired schoolwork, difficulty having fun, social withdrawal, appetite disturbance, sleep disturbance, excessive fatigue, physical complaints, irritability, excessive guilt, low self-esteem, depressed feelings, morbid ideas, suicidal ideas, excessive weeping, depressed facial affect, listless speech, and hypoactivity. It is used to diagnose depression and can be repeated to measure response to treatments. CDRS-R can be administered in 15-20 minutes.

It is available for purchase.
Click here to go to the web page

Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale Modified for Children (CES-DC)

The CES-DC is a modified version of the adult Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. It is a 20-item scale completed by children/adolescents ages 6-17.

The CES-DC takes 5 minutes to complete and is available free.

Go to the following link, scroll down to the "Bridges" section. It is currently the second link under "Mood Disorders: Depressive and Bipolar Disorders."

Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (Kiddie-SADS)

Developed from the adult interview Schizophrenia and Affective Disorder Scales, the semi-structured versions are: K-SADS-E (Epidemiologic) and K-SADS-PL (Present and Lifetime). This interview is primarily for use in research settings, and is to be administered by a clinician trained in its use, so it will rarely be used in ordinary clinical settings. It covers a broad spectrum of most child psychiatric diagnoses, with the exception of Pervasive Development Disorders and personality disorders. It is used with children ages 6-18. For younger children it is recommended that a single clinician interview parent(s) first, then repeat the interview with the child. For teenagers, it is recommended that the teenager be interviewed first. The scale includes questions about school performance and other issues relevant to children and adolescents.

It takes 90-120 minutes to administer and can be accessed at:

Children's Depression Scale (CDS)-3rd Ed.
Parent Teacher Clinician Student

The CDS was developed for assessing depressed behavior and feelings in children and adolescents ages 7-18. This screening tool provides a depression scale and a pleasure scale, with separate forms for boys and girls. The parent and teacher scales each contain 50 items and take 20-50 minutes to complete. The clinician and self-report versions each contain 10 items and require 10 minutes to complete.

All versions are available for purchase at:

Children's Depression Inventory (CDI)
Parent Teacher Student

The CDI was derived from the Beck Depression Inventory and can be used with children and adolescents ages 7-17. Parents and teachers provide home and school perspectives on various academic, social and emotional behaviors and functional problems observed over the last two weeks. The child/adolescent reports on a variety of symptoms including negative mood, interpersonal problems, ineffectiveness, depressed facial affect, and negative self-esteem. Written at a first-grade reading level, each version takes 10-15 minutes to complete. The parent version includes 17 items, the teacher version contains 12 items, and the youth self-report includes 27 items.

Available for purchase on the web.

If time is limited, a 10-item CDI-Short Version is available that takes less than 5 minutes to administer. It can be purchased at:,69991&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Beck Depression Inventory for Youth (BDI-Y)

This is a 20-item, self-report inventory that allows for early identification of symptoms of depression in children and adolescents ages 7-14. This tool screens for emotional and social difficulties that may impair a child's ability to function in school settings. It includes items related to sleep disturbance; negative thoughts about self, life, and the future; and feelings of sadness and guilt. It is useful in planning and monitoring educational placement as well as in clinical treatment settings. The items are written at a second-grade level, but may be administered orally (usually in 5-10 minutes).

The Beck Depression Inventory for Youth can be purchased, as part of the Beck Youth Inventories of Social & Emotional Impairment, at:

Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II)

The BDI-II is a widely used 21-item screening tool for adults and teenagers older than 13. It takes 5 minutes to complete and is designed to measure the presence and severity of depressive symptoms in the general population as well as in psychiatrically diagnosed patients.

It can be purchased at:

Reynolds Child Depression Scale (RCDS), and Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale, 2nd Ed. (RADS-2)

Versions of the Reynolds 30-item scale are available for children ages 8-12 and for adolescents ages 11-20. The self-report scales assess basic categories of depressive symptoms: negative/sad mood, depressed/with drawn emotions, negative self-esteem, and physical manifestations.

The scales take 10 minutes to complete and are available for purchase at: (Child) or (Adolescent)

Multiscore Depression Inventory for Adolescents and Adults (MDI), and Multiscore Depression Inventory for Children (MDI-C)

The MDI is a self-report designed for individuals ages 13 and older. It consists of 118 true/false items that provide 10 depression indicators: low energy level, cognitive difficulty, guilt, low self-esteem, social introversion, pessimism, irritability, sad mood, helplessness, and learned helplessness. A shorter, 47-item version is also available. The MDI-C includes 79 true/false items regarding anxiety, self-esteem, sad mood, helplessness, social introversion, low energy, pessimism, and defiance. It is used with children ages 8-12. The MDI and MDI-C each take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

MDI and MDI Short Versions are available for purchase at:

The MDI-C is available for purchase at:

Mood and Feelings Questionnaire (MFQ)

These questionnaires contain a series of phrases that can help describe how adolescents ages 13-18 have been feeling or acting recently. The long and short versions contain about 33/13 items respectively and take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete.

All versions of the MFQ can be obtained in PDF format at:  Click on "instruments" to the left. A short form must be filled out to download the form.


Disclaimer. This document is intended to provide general educational information concerning mental health and health care resources. This information is not an attempt to practice medicine or to provide specific medical advice, and should not be used to make a diagnosis or to replace or overrule a qualified health care provider's judgment. The reader is advised to exercise judgment when making decisions and to consult with a qualified health care professional with respect to individual situations and for answers to personal questions.

Copyright. Users may print this document for personal, non-commercial use only, provided they identify the source of the material and include a statement that the materials are protected by copyright law.

Questions? Email

2010 Massachusetts General Hospital, School Psychiatry Program and Mood & Anxiety Disorders Institute Resource Center