The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was developed in 1987 for screening postpartum women in outpatient, home visiting settings, or at the 6-8 week postpartum examination. It has been utilized among numerous populations, including US women and Spanish-speaking women in other countries.
The scale has since been validated, and evidence from a number of research studies has confirmed the tool to be both reliable and sensitive in detecting depression.
The EPDS consists of 10 questions and can usually be completed in less than 5 minutes. Validation studies have utilized various threshold scores in determining which women were positive and in need of referral.
Cut-off scores range from 9 to 13 points. A woman scoring 9 or more points or indicating any suicidal ideation – that is, she scores 1 or higher on question #10 – should be referred immediately for follow-up.
The EPDS score should not override clinical judgment. A careful clinical assessment should be carried out to confirm the diagnosis. The scale indicates how the mother has felt during the previous week. In doubtful cases it may be useful to repeat the tool after 2 weeks. The scale will not detect mothers with anxiety neuroses, phobias, or personality disorders.