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All About DASS Test: The Depression, Anxiety & Stress Scale

Updated: May 20

At 360 Wellness Hub, as part of our monitoring process, we require all clients to complete the short version of DASS known as DASS-21. The DASS alone is not a clinical instrument and cannot on its own be used to diagnose depression, anxiety or stress. Nevertheless, this test can give an indication of whether any of these issues (depression, anxiety and stress) are having a significant effect on the person's life at present. Should a person score high on any of the issues, these will need further exploration through conversation with a clinical counsellor or psychotherapist.




What Do DASS measures?

The DASS is a self-report test which measures your level of Depression, Anxiety and Stress.

At the end of the test, you will receive a severity rating of normal, mild, moderate, severe or extremely severe for each of these three negative emotional states. Research has confirmed that the only difference between the depression, anxiety, and stress experienced by mentally healthy individuals versus that experienced by the clinically disturbed is in the degree of severity. Thus, DASS can be used to provide this indication.


The developers of the DASS test state that the interpretation of DASS results, one should be done only by a trained professional in psychology.


How Do I Take The DASS test online in Malaysia?

1. Download a copy of the test below

DASS-21_ENGLISH
.pdf
Download PDF • 80KB

2. Think about how much each statement applied to you over the past week.

Circle according to the rating scale of 0 for Never, 1 for Sometimes, 2 for Often and 3 for Almost Always

3. Write down the number you circled in the corresponding blank FOR OFFICE USE box

4. Sum up all the numbers along the D column for your Depression score

Sum up all the numbers along the A column for your Anxiety score

Sum up all the numbers along the S column for your Stress score

5. Note the severity of your Depression, Anxiety and Stress for DASS-21 by referring to the table below.

Depression

Anxiety

Stress

Normal

0-9

0-7

0-14

Mild

10-13

8-9

15-18

Moderate

14-20

10-14

19-25

Severe

21-27

15-19

26-33

Extremely Severe

28+

20+

34+




What Can I Learn About Myself From The DASS test?

You would learn:

1. Your levels of depression, anxiety and stress

2. Whether those levels are a concern

3. Whether your depression, anxiety and stress are causing physical symptoms e.g. difficulty breathing, increased heart rate

4. If re-taking the test, improvement in your mental state after treatment

Your psychologist will take your DASS-21 results into consideration when they perform a more thorough test when making an assessment or a diagnosis.


Research Confirms The Validity and Reliability of the DASS-21 Test

All psychometric tests must be both valid (measures what it is supposed to measure) and reliable (accurate and consistent). For example, the DASS-21 test should measure depression, anxiety and stress, not anger. And it should accurately measure the levels of everyone who takes it: a highly stressed individual is graded severely stressed, while a relaxed individual is graded normal.


To ensure the validity and reliability of a test, statistical testing is conducted to generate a coefficient value for their reliability and validity. The coefficient has a value that ranges between zero and one; the closer the value is to one, the stronger the evidence of reliability or validity.


Validity of DASS-21 Test

DASS-21's initial baseline data was obtained from 717 people between the ages of 17-69 years.

Today, the DASS test has since been widely used internationally, with over 25 translations available (Oei, Sawang, Yong, & Mukhtar, 2013). It has been validated across numerous countries, racial groups and age groups (Norton, 2007). Some sample groups include adolescents, average city dwellers, military veterans (MacDonell, Bhullar & Thorsteinsson, 2016) and rural workers in northern Vietnam (Tran, Tran & Fisher, 2013).


Many negative emotional states share common symptoms, eg sleep and appetite issues. To ensure the test can isolate one particular emotional state, each DASS-21 item focuses on a core symptom unique to that state:

  • The Depression scale assesses the core symptoms of depression: dysphoria, hopelessness, devaluation of life, self-deprecation, lack of interest/involvement, anhedonia, and inertia.

  • The Anxiety scale assesses the core symptoms of anxiety: autonomic arousal, skeletal muscle effects, situational anxiety, and subjective experience of anxious affect.

  • The Stress scale assesses the core symptoms of stress: chronic difficulty relaxing, nervous arousal, being easily upset/agitated, being irritable/over-reactive and being impatient.

Reliability of DASS-21 Test

The internal consistency among all DASS-21 test items has been found to be reliably high: Depression 0.81, Anxiety 0.73, Stress 0.81.

In other words, a highly depressed but not stressed person would give similarly high scores to all 7 Depression-measuring questions and similarly low scores to all 7 Stress-measuring questions.


Besides that, the DASS-21's ability to measure Depression and Anxiety was also compared with another popular test that was known to be reliable, the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories (BDI test).

It was found that a person's scores on both tests correlated highly, i.e. they were similar (Lovibond & Lovibond,1995).


Conclusion

Congratulations on completing the DASS-21 psychometric test!

If your DASS test scores showed Moderate or higher levels in any of the 3 emotional states, it is an indicator that you are experiencing a poor quality of life or emotional disturbances. The DASS test developers recommend that in such cases, you consult a trained professional for further interpretation of your results.

You can contact us to make an appointment with our psychologist for diagnosis and assessment. Call 0327792700 or text 0123300413.

#DASS21 #mentalhealthtest #areyouokay



Sources:

Official DASS-21 test creator's website by: http://www2.psy.unsw.edu.au/dass/over.htm


Depression Anxiety and Stress Scales (DASS): Psychometric analysis across four racial groups by Norton (2007). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17999228/


Using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale 21 (DASS-21) across cultures by Oei, Sawang, Yong, & Mukhtar (2013).

https://pureportal.coventry.ac.uk/en/publications/using-the-depression-anxiety-stress-scale-21-dass-21-across-cultu


The structure of negative emotional states: Comparison of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) with the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories by Lovibond & Lovibond (1995).

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/000579679400075U





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About the Author

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Dr. Lennie Soo

Founder and Clinical Director of 360 Wellness Hub.

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