Skip to main content
Skip directly to local search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Data Guide — Psychological Distress Status

Psychological Distress Status

Psychological distress was determined using the Kessler 6 measure of nonspecific distress*. In 2007, respondents from 37 states and territories† participated in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Mental Illness & Stigma module, which included the scale of 6 questions asking how often during the past 30 days the respondent felt: “nervous,” “hopeless,” “restless or fidgety,” “so depressed that nothing could cheer you up,” “that everything was an effort,” and “worthless.” Possible answers to each question were: All, Most, Some, A Little, or None. These answer choices were assigned a scale of 4 (All) to 0 (None), and each respondent’s answers to the six questions were added together for a combined total ranging from 0 to 24. Respondents then were categorized by their total score, according to scoring proposed by Kessler. Serious Psychological Distress was a score of 13 or more, Mild to Moderate Psychological Distress was a score from 8 to 12, and No Psychological Distress was a score of 7 or less.

*The Kessler 6 (K6) scale is a measure of generalized psychological distress experienced during the past 30 days.

†States and territories participating: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Puerto Rico

Psychological Distress Status data available: 2007 (State Profiles only).

Defined based on:

Kessler RC, Barker PR, Colpe LJ, Epstein JF, Gfroerer JC, Hiripi E, et al. Screening for serious mental illness in the general population. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60(2):184–9.

McKnight-Eily LR, Elam-Evans LD, Strine TW, Zack MM, Perry GS, Presley-Cantrell L, et al. Activity limitation, chronic disease, and comorbid serious psychological distress in U.S. adults―BRFSS 2007. Int J Public Health. 2009;54:S111–9.

National Comorbidity Survey [Internet]. Boston (MA): Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School; 2005 [cited Sept 2010]. Available from:

Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta, GA 30333

  • Email DHDS Team:

  • 800-CDC-INFO
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC–INFO The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #

* * * * * * *