Depressive Symptoms in Danish Elite Athletes Using the Major Depressive Inventory (MDI) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)


  • Andreas Kuettel University of Southern Denmark
  • Anna Melin Department of Sports Sciences, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden
  • Carsten H Larsen Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  • Mia Beck Lichtenstein Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark



Background: The prevalence of depressive symptoms among athletes is an ongoing debate in the scientific literature.

Aims: The aim of the current study was to assess the prevalence of depressive symptoms in Danish elite athletes and to evaluate the psychometric properties of the Major Depressive Inventory (MDI) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in athletes.

Methods: The total sample comprised 996 athletes from two cross-sectional studies using the MDI (n = 409) and the CES-D (n = 587).

Results: Using the original cut-off points, the MDI found 8.6% and the CES-D found 22.0% at risk of depression. Using alternative cut-off points recommended in the literature, both instruments detected 10-11% of athletes at risk of depression. No statistically significant differences were found related to age, injury, and type of sport between high risk and low risk groups, whereas female gender was identified as a risk factor for higher depressive symptoms. Principal component analyses confirmed a single factor structure in both instruments with sufficient item loadings on the first component and Cronbach α values of .89 and .88.

Discussion: We recommend regular screening of depressive symptoms in elite athletes, with MDI and CES-D as reliable instrument for that purpose.


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Kuettel, A., Melin, A., Larsen, C. H., & Lichtenstein, M. B. (2022). Depressive Symptoms in Danish Elite Athletes Using the Major Depressive Inventory (MDI) and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Scandinavian Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4(1), 1–9.



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