Beck Anxiety Inventory (A Complete guide)

In this brief guide, we will look at some details of the Beck Anxiety inventory as well as the beck Depression Inventory and some symptoms of anxiety.

Beck Anxiety Inventory

The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) was created by Aaron T. Beck and colleagues, and it is a 21-question multiple-choice self-report questionnaire used for measuring the severity and presence of anxiety in children as well as adults.

The questions in Beck Anxiety Inventory measure the common symptoms of anxiety, and they ask the subject to define the presence, absence or severity of their symptoms in the last month 

Beck Anxiety Inventory mentions symptoms of anxiety like numbness and tingling, sweating that does not happen die to heat, and fear of the worst thing happening.

A version of Beck Anxiety Inventory exists for people in the age range of 7-14 years as well, and it is known as the beck Anxiety Inventory for Youth, while the other, more commonly used Beck Anxiety Inventory may be used for individuals who are 17 years of age or older.

Typically, the Beck Anxiety Inventory takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete and it may be filled out by the patient or the clinician, and typically it is scored by the clinician.

The online versions of Beck Anxiety Inventory may have preset scoring systems that allow for instant addition of the scores to provide a composite that the individual can compare with what the cutoffs provided after the test.

The 21 questions on the inventory are scored on a scale value of 0 (not at all) to 3 (severely). Higher total scores indicate more severe anxiety symptoms and the standardized cutoffs are clinicians refer to are:

  • 0–7: Minimal
  • 8-15: Mild
  • 16-25: Moderate
  • 26-63: Severe

The Beck anxiety inventory was designed as “an inventory for measuring clinical anxiety” and it is one of the few scales that eliminates the overlap depression and anxiety features completely

It has been seen that other common measures of anxiety liek the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) highly correlated or cannot be differentiated from depression, but the Beck Anxiety Inventory is not as contaminated by depressive content and makes for a more reliable measure of anxiety symptoms.

Similar to the Beck anxiety inventory, there is also the strait trait anxiety inventory which you may find interesting.

Beck Anxiety Inventory Validity

Beck anxiety inventory validity has been established with the help of the revised Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, and there has been good correlation between the two, meaning that the beck Anxiety inventory is a valid tool.

The validity of a test measures whether the test is good at assessing what it seeks to assess, and this is an important concept that dictates whether a test will be good to use in the clinical setting.

The Beck Anxiety Inventory reliability has been assessed by Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient of validity, which is a measure of how consistently and reliably it measures what it is meant to.

A major reason why Beck anxiety Inventory has high validity is because it is not just a measure of trait anxiety or state anxiety, but instead it can measure a “prolonged state anxiety”, which, in a clinical setting, is an important assessment as it has a direct effect on the possible treatment plans and intervention modules.

Beck Anxiety Inventory Review

There have been many studies that have checked the efficacy of this scale and some crucial and valid Beck Anxiety Inventory reviews are given below:

“BAI scores in patients with an anxiety disorder with a co-morbid anxiety disorder and in patients with an anxiety disorder with a co-morbid depressive disorder were significantly higher than BAI scores in patients with an anxiety disorder alone or patients with a depressive disorder alone.

“The results suggest that the BAI may be used as a severity indicator of anxiety in primary care patients with different anxiety disorders. However, because the instrument seems to reflect the severity of depression as well, it is not a suitable instrument to discriminate between anxiety and depression in a primary care population.”

“Since BAI is a criterion-based measure rather than a diagnosis-based to anxiety disorders, its utility could be highlighted in domain-based descriptions of symptomatology rather than in categorical diagnosis.

We failed to find a cutoff score to distinguish anxiety disorder patients from healthy population with adequate sensitivity and specificity values. In addition, BAI is not an effective tool to discriminate patients with anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. It is therefore suggested to use a more sensitive tool in primary health care settings, due to the high possibility to incorrectly diagnose anxiety disorders.”

“Convergent comparisons were robust across 33 different anxiety instruments and the Beck Depression Inventory–II (Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996). Structural validity primarily supported the original 2‐factor solution proposed by Beck and Steer (1993), and diagnostic accuracy varied according to the sample size and criterion cutoff score.”

“The BDI-II is a relevant psychometric instrument, showing high reliability, capacity to discriminate between depressed and non-depressed subjects, and improved concurrent, content, and structural validity. Based on available psychometric evidence, the BDI-II can be viewed as a cost-effective questionnaire for measuring the severity of depression, with broad applicability for research and clinical practice worldwide.”

Beck Anxiety Inventory Age Range

The age range for beck Anxiety Inventory is 17 years or older, and there are no other major requirements for the individual that needs to take this test.

The Beck Anxiety Inventory Youth form may be used with young people between the ages of 7-14 years.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms

Generalized Anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders and the Beck Anxiety Inventory measures the severity of symptoms of this disorder primarily.

Beck’s anxiety inventory, like many other diagnostic tools used to diagnose or measure anxiety, is based on the diagnostic criteria for generalized anxiety disorder given in classification systems like ICD 10 and DSM 5.

The DSM 5 criteria for anxiety is given below:

“Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).

The individual finds it difficult to control the worry.

The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms having been present for more days than not for the past 6 months):

Note: Only one item is required for children.

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge.
  • Being easily fatigued.
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank.
  • Irritability.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep).

The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).

The disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g., anxiety or worry about having panic attacks in panic disorder, negative evaluation in social anxiety disorder (social phobia], contamination or other obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation from attachment figures in separation anxiety disorder, reminders of traumatic events in post-traumatic stress disorder, gaining weight in anorexia nervosa, physical complaints in somatic symptom disorder, perceived appearance flaws in body dysmorphic disorder, having a serious illness in illness anxiety disorder, or the content of delusional beliefs in schizophrenia or delusional disorder).”

The ICD 10 criteria also highlights similar features but in a slightly different way, and the ICD 10 features for Anxiety are given below:

“The essential feature is anxiety, which is generalized and persistent but not restricted to, or even strongly predominating in, any particular environmental circumstances (i.e. it is “free-floating”). 

As in other anxiety disorders the dominant symptoms are highly variable, but complaints of continuous feelings of nervousness trembling, muscular tension, sweating, light-headedness, palpitations, dizziness, and epigastric discomfort are common. 

Fears that or a relative will shortly become ill or have an accident are often expressed, together with a variety of other worries and forebodings.”

The criteria for anxiety disorder on the other hand, is as follows:

  • “Apprehension (worries about future misfortunes, feeling “on edge”, difficulty in concentrating, etc.);
  • Motor tension (restless fidgeting, tension headaches, trembling, inability to relax); and
  • Autonomic overactivity (light-headedness, sweating, tachycardia or tachypnea, epigastric discomfort, dizziness, dry mouth, etc.).”

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.


In this brief guide, we looked at some details of the Beck Anxiety inventory as well as the Beck Depression Inventory and some symptoms of anxiety.

Beck’s anxiety and Depression inventories and Hamilton Anxiety and Depression inventories are some of the most used clinical scales in the clinical settings, and they give a very good idea of the symptoms and severity of disorder in an individual.

The best thing about both these inventories is that they are easy to learn, and they can be applied online in some cases as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Beck’s Anxiety Inventory

How do you score Beck Anxiety Inventory?

To score the Beck Anxiety Inventory you need to add the scores on the 21 symptoms that can range between 0 and 63 points. A total score of 0 – 7 is interpreted as a “Minimal” level of anxiety; 8 – 15 as “Mild”; 16 – 25 as “Moderate”, and; 26 – 63 as “Severe”.

What does the Beck Anxiety Inventory measure?

The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) measures and assesses the intensity of physical and cognitive anxiety symptoms during the past month. The scores used to measure the symptoms on a Beck Anxiety Inventory may range from 0 to 63: minimal anxiety levels (0–7), mild anxiety (8–15), moderate anxiety (16–25), and severe anxiety (26–63).

Who can administer the Beck Anxiety Inventory?

Any clinician which a degree in psychology who works with patients can administer the beck Anxiety Inventory, which consists of 21 items and each item is descriptive of a symptom of anxiety.
The items in a Beck Anxiety Inventory are rated on a scale of 0 to 3, and any trained interviewer can administer it, and if it is self-administered, any trained interviewer can help score it and draw conclusions from it.

Is the Beck Depression Inventory reliable?

Yes, the Beck Depression Inventory, or BDI-II is a valid, reliable and culturally relevant instrument and it is used in the measurement of depressive symptoms in clinical settings.
The Beck Depression Inventory measures somatic-affective and cognitive factors.

What is the purpose of the Beck Anxiety Inventory?

The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) is used for measuring the severity of anxiety in children and adults, and it was created for diagnostic and assessment purposes in individuals suffering from anxiety.


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