Depression is one of the most common psychological disorders in individuals seeking psychiatric treatment, and a frequent psychological disorder among patients who seek primary healthcare. Therefore, it is vitally important to employ reliable and valid diagnostic instruments and norms, both in clinical and research work to investigate this problem.
This article is part of a larger study which has been conducted for ten years now with the aim to create a clearer picture about the level of depression which may be expected in the nonclinical population in Serbia, and in that way provide a basis for comparisons when diagnosing the clinical population. The subsidiary aims were to monitor potential changes in level of depressive reactions within the set time and to examine the psychometric properties and factor structure of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scale. The sample consisted of 782 students (40% male, 60% female), mean age = 23.10 years, SD = 1.782. Mean score on the BDI-IA scale was 6.69; SD = 6.412. The study showed no significant relationships between the BDI scores and sociodemographic variables such as age, economic status, and educational profile, but showed significant differences within gender (t (780) = 3.222, p = 0.001). There was also a relatively stable level of depressive reactions in this population over the previous ten years. The Cronbach’s coefficient of the BDI scale was α = 0.860, with the majority of item-total correlations above 0.37. The three-factor structure represents cognitive aspect, affective component of depression, and somatic problems attached to depression. The cognitive factor prevails in the entire sample, which is in accordance with the Beck theory about dysfunctional attitudes, ie cognitive vulnerability is a psychological predisposition to depression.