Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS)

Aamir Ranjha

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Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)

Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS)

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About Scale Name

Scale Name

Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)

Author Details

Peter F. Lovibond and Andrew T. Joiner. Lovibond

Translation Availability

English, Urdu and others.

Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)
Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)

Background/Description

The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) is a set of self-report scales designed to measure negative emotional states, specifically depression, anxiety, and stress. The aim of the DASS is not just to assess these emotional states conventionally, but to contribute to their definition, understanding, and measurement in a comprehensive manner. It serves the needs of both researchers and clinical professionals.

Each scale of the DASS consists of 14 items, divided into subscales with similar content. The Depression scale measures feelings of dysphoria, hopelessness, devaluation of life, self-deprecation, lack of interest/involvement, anhedonia, and inertia. The Anxiety scale assesses autonomic arousal, skeletal muscle effects, situational anxiety, and subjective experience of anxious affect. The Stress scale captures chronic non-specific arousal, including difficulty relaxing, nervous arousal, being easily upset/agitated, irritable/over-reactive, and impatient. Respondents rate the severity/frequency of each state over the past week using a 4-point scale. Scores for each scale are calculated by summing the relevant item scores.

In addition to the 42-item version, a shorter version called the DASS21 is available, consisting of 7 items per scale. It’s worth noting that an earlier version of the DASS scales was referred to as the Self-Analysis Questionnaire (SAQ).

High scores on each DASS scale are associated with specific characteristics. For the Depression scale, this includes self-disparagement, feeling dispirited, pessimism, lack of enjoyment, lack of interest or involvement, and slow initiative. The Anxiety scale is characterized by feelings of apprehension, tremors, physical symptoms like dry mouth and difficulty breathing, and worry about performance and control. The Stress scale is associated with being over-aroused, unable to relax, easily upset, irritable, easily startled, and exhibiting nervousness or restlessness.

The DASS is useful for research purposes, allowing researchers to discriminate between depression, anxiety, and stress and study their nature, causes, and mechanisms. While it was initially developed using non-clinical samples, it can also be used for screening normal adolescents and adults, with the possibility of comparative use with children aged 12 and above, provided they have adequate language proficiency.

In a clinical setting, the DASS helps in assessing the severity of core symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress, aiding in the evaluation of emotional disturbances. However, it’s important to note that clinically distressed individuals may exhibit additional symptoms common to two or all three conditions, which require clinical examination or the use of symptom checklists for further assessment. The DASS can be administered and scored by non-psychologists, but decisions based on score profiles should be made by experienced clinicians after conducting thorough clinical examinations.

The DASS follows a dimensional approach to psychological disorder rather than relying on categorical diagnoses. It recognizes that the differences between normal individuals and clinically distressed individuals are primarily differences in degree. Therefore, the DASS does not directly assign patients to specific diagnostic categories outlined in classification systems like the DSM and ICD. However, the DASS Manual provides recommended cutoffs for conventional severity labels (normal, moderate, severe).

Administration, Scoring and Interpretation

Introduction: Introduce the purpose and nature of the DASS to the participant. Emphasize the importance of providing accurate and honest responses.

Explanation of scales: Briefly explain each of the three scales (Depression, Anxiety, and Stress) and the types of emotional states they assess. Ensure that the participant understands the content and scope of the scales.

Instructions: Provide clear instructions on how to complete the questionnaire. Explain that the respondent should rate the severity/frequency of each item based on their experiences over the past week. Clarify any ambiguous terms or concepts if necessary.

Answering the items: Allow the participant to read and respond to each item independently. Ensure that they understand the four-point severity/frequency scale (e.g., “Did not apply to me at all” to “Applied to me very much, or most of the time”). Encourage them to consider their responses carefully and select the option that best reflects their experiences.

Reliability and Validity

Internal Consistency: The DASS scales have consistently demonstrated high internal consistency, indicating that the items within each scale measure the same underlying construct. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients, a measure of internal consistency, have typically ranged from good to excellent across different populations and settings.

Test-Retest Reliability: The DASS has shown good test-retest reliability, indicating that the scores remain stable over time. Test-retest correlation coefficients have been found to be high, suggesting that the scales yield consistent results when administered to the same individuals on different occasions.

Construct Validity: The DASS has strong evidence for construct validity, meaning that it measures what it intends to measure. It has been shown to discriminate effectively between the three dimensions of depression, anxiety, and stress. Factor analyses have consistently supported the three-factor structure of the DASS, confirming that it measures distinct emotional states.

Convergent and Discriminant Validity: The DASS correlates significantly with other established measures of depression, anxiety, and stress, supporting its convergent validity. It also demonstrates discriminant validity by showing weaker correlations with measures of unrelated constructs.

Criterion Validity: The DASS has been compared to other well-established measures of depression, anxiety, and stress, such as the Beck Depression Inventory and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, showing strong correlations. This supports the criterion validity of the DASS as it aligns with established measures of similar constructs.

Available Versions

42-Items
21-Items

Reference

Lovibond, P. F., & Lovibond, S. H. (1995). The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 33(3), 335-343. https://doi.org/10.1016/0005-7967(94)00075-U

Henry, J. D., & Crawford, J. R. (2005). The short-form version of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21): Construct validity and normative data in a large non-clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 44(2), 227-239. https://doi.org/10.1348/014466505X29657

Important Link

Scale File:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS)?
The DASS is a set of self-report scales designed to measure the negative emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. It assesses the severity of these emotional states by using a series of items that individuals rate based on their experiences over the past week.

How many scales are included in the DASS?
The DASS consists of three scales: the Depression scale, the Anxiety scale, and the Stress scale. Each scale measures a specific aspect of negative emotional states.

Can the DASS be used for research purposes?
Yes, the DASS is commonly used in research to measure and study depression, anxiety, and stress. It has demonstrated good reliability and validity in various settings and populations.

Is the DASS suitable for clinical use?
Yes, the DASS can be used in clinical settings to assess the severity of core symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, it should be used in conjunction with a comprehensive clinical evaluation and not as a stand-alone diagnostic tool.

Does the DASS measure suicidal tendencies?
No, the DASS does not include items specifically related to suicidal tendencies. However, it is essential for clinicians to assess the risk of suicide separately when working with individuals who exhibit significant distress.

Is the DASS available in different languages?
Yes, the DASS has been translated into various languages, making it available for use in different cultural contexts. Translated versions undergo validation processes to ensure their reliability and validity.

What is the DASS assessment scale?
The DASS assessment scale refers to the set of three scales (Depression, Anxiety, and Stress) that make up the DASS. These scales consist of multiple items that individuals rate to evaluate their experiences and levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

What does the DASS measure of depression?
The DASS measures depression by assessing various aspects such as dysphoria, hopelessness, lack of interest/involvement, self-deprecation, and anhedonia. It captures the severity of depressive symptoms individuals may be experiencing.

What is the DASS 21 Likert scale?
The DASS 21 Likert scale is a 4-point rating scale used in the shorter version of the DASS, known as the DASS21. Participants respond to each item by indicating the severity or frequency of their experiences, ranging from “Did not apply to me at all” to “Applied to me very much, or most of the time.”

What is a normal DASS score?
There is no universally defined “normal” DASS score since emotional states can vary among individuals and populations. The interpretation of DASS scores depends on various factors, including demographic characteristics, cultural context, and clinical judgment. Comparisons are often made with established norms or reference populations to assess the severity of depression, anxiety, and stress.

What is the DASS explained?
The DASS, or Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, is a psychometric assessment tool designed to measure and quantify the severity of negative emotional states related to depression, anxiety, and stress. It provides a standardized method for evaluating and monitoring these emotional dimensions.

What is the DASS test used for?
The DASS test is used to assess and quantify the levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in individuals. It is commonly employed in research settings to study these emotional states, and it can also assist in clinical settings to evaluate the severity of symptoms and monitor changes over time.

How is DASS 42 calculated?
The DASS 42 is calculated by summing the scores of the relevant items within each scale (Depression, Anxiety, and Stress). Participants rate the severity or frequency of each item on a 4-point scale, and the scores are summed to obtain a total score for each scale.

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I am a senior clinical psychologist with over 11years of experience in the field. I am the founder of Psychology Roots, a platform that provides solutions and support to learners and professionals in psychology. My goal is to help people understand and improve their mental health, and to empower them to live happier and healthier lives.

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