Kessler-10 (K10) distress scale

Distress scale – Kessler 10

  • The Kessler-10 scale is one of the tools used to screen for psychological distress, such as anxiety or depression.
  • This is not intended to provide a diagnosis – only trained health professionals should do this.
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Note: Your responses to this questionnaire are anonymous. Your scores are not recorded by Healthify and we don't capture any information that can identify you.

The Kessler-10 scale was developed for use in the US National Health Interview Survey. It is a short measure of non-specific psychological distress based on questions about the level of nervousness, agitation, psychological fatigue and depression.

Professor Ronald C Kessler of the Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School is thanked for the use of research on the Kessler-10 funded by US Public Health Service Grants RO1 MH46376, R01 MH52861, RO1 MH49098 and K05 MH00507, and by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation Network on Successful Midlife Development (Gilbert Brim, Director).

How to interpret your Kessler-10 score

  • Each item is scored from 1 = ‘none of the time’ to 5 = ‘all of the time’. Scores of the 10 items are then summed, yielding a minimum score of 10 and a maximum score of 50.    
  • Low scores indicate low levels of psychological distress and high scores indicate high levels of psychological distress.
  • Please note that while great care has been taken with the development of this self-test, it is not intended to be a substitute for professional clinical advice. The result is indicative only. If you have scored above the threshold on this scale, see your doctor or a mental health practitioner, such as a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist.(external link)

The Kessler-10 has been translated into the following languages and is available on the Transcultural Mental Health Centre website. It is strongly recommended that these questions are completed with a health professional.

For other languages, visit Transcultural Mental Health Centre(external link) website.

Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.