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

The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC) is a 20 item self-report questionnaire for young people between the ages of 6 and 17. It asks young people to rate how many depressive symptoms they have experienced in the last week. This measure is useful for tracking depressive symptoms over time.

Validity and Reliability

Psychometric characteristics of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC) were evaluated with 148 child and adolescent psychiatric inpatients (Faulstich et al., 1986). The sample were diagnosed with major depression, dysthymic disorder or another serious mental disorder requiring an inpatient admission. Psychometric properties were adequate, with an internal consistency of α  =  .89, and sensitivity was 80% with a cutoff score of 15, however the scale was not able to differentiate between inpatients admitted for depression or another mental illness.

Scoring and Interpretation

Scores are presented as a total raw score (0 to 60) and two percentiles. Higher scores represent higher levels of symptoms. As defined by Weissman et al. (1980), a score of 15 or above is considered to be indicative of clinically significant depressive symptoms.

The Clinical Percentile represents the respondents score compared to children independently diagnosed with Major Depression or Dysthymia (Faulstich et al., 1990), where a percentile rank of 50 represents a typical score for a depressed young person.

The Healthy Percentile represents the respondents scores compared to a sample of children with no identified mental health diagnosis (Faulstich et al., 1990). A percentile of 50 on the Healthy Percentile scale presents a typical score for a healthy young person.


Weissman, M. M., Orvaschel, H., & Padian, N. (1980). Children’s Symptom and Social Functioning Self-Report Scales Comparison of Mothers’ and Children’s Reports. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 168(12), 736-740.


Faulstich, M. E., Carey, M. P., Ruggiero, L., Enyart, P., & Gresham, F. (1986). Assessment of depression in childhood and adolescence: An evaluation of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC). The American journal of psychiatry.

Fendrich, M., Weissman, M. M., & Warner, V. (1990). Screening for depressive disorder in children and adolescents: validating the center for epidemiologic studees depression scale for children. American Journal of Epidemiology, 131(3), 538-551.