Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)

Postpartum depression represents the most frequent complication associated with childbirth, affecting a significant proportion of mothers globally. In response to the need for a reliable diagnostic tool specifically targeted at this condition, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was developed. This screening instrument is a 10-item self-rating questionnaire that efficiently identifies women who may be experiencing symptoms of perinatal depression. The scale is designed for use during pregnancy as well as the postpartum period, making it a versatile tool in maternal health care.

The EPDS was tailored to distinguish between the typical stress and fatigue postpartum women often experience and the more severe symptoms of depression. It asks respondents to reflect on their feelings over the past seven days and answer based on a four-point scale, ranging from “no, not at all” to “yes, quite a lot&rdquo.; This method of questioning aims to capture the frequency and severity of depressive symptoms, providing clinicians with a clear picture of a patient’s mental state. Notably, the scale includes considerations for the emotional experiences and challenges unique to the period around childbirth, such as feelings of guilt about not coping well or the fear of harming the baby or oneself.

Research has validated the EPDS not only as a specific measure for perinatal depression but also as a general depression screener in broader populations. This broader applicability underscores the scale’s sensitivity and reliability, characteristics that contribute to its widespread adoption in various health settings. Health professionals can administer the EPDS without extensive training, and it requires only a few minutes for patients to complete, factors that enhance its practicality in busy clinical environments.

The adoption of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in both research and clinical practice has facilitated greater awareness and improved management of perinatal depression. By enabling early detection and intervention, the EPDS plays a supportive role in maternal and familial mental health, potentially mitigating the long-term consequences of untreated postpartum depression. Its continued use helps to ensure that women receive the care necessary to manage symptoms of depression during one of the most critical periods of maternal health.

Please select the answer that comes closest to how you have felt in the past 7 days.

  1. I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things.
  2. I have looked forward with enjoyment to things.
  3. I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
  4. I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
  5. I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason.
  6. Things have been getting on top of me.
  7. I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping.
  8. I have felt sad or miserable.
  9. I have been so unhappy that I have been crying.
  10. The thought of harming myself has occurred to me.
  1. JL Cox, JM Holden, R Sagovsky. Detection of Postnatal Depression: Development of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. 150: British Journal of Psychiatry 782-786. (1987).
  2. KL Wisner, BL Parry, CM Piontek. Postpartum Depression. 347(3): New England Journal of Medicine 194-199. ().