Scale May Detect More Than Depression in Early Pregnancy
February 8, 2021   

Postpartum depression continues to be prevalent, while early detection methods can help prevent this mental health condition. In a recent study, 2,271 antenatal women participated in a study that tested the efficacy of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to detect mental disorders and risk factors for mental disorders in new mothers with depressive symptoms. A score of 13 or higher on the EPDS was considered a screen-positive (n=149). The first 150 women fulfilling the criteria to screen negative (=12 on the EPDS) served as the controls. The EPDS is a 10-item self report scale that was developed by Cox et al (1987). Out of the women who screened positive, 126 (86%) were diagnosed during face-to-face interviews with a current mental disorder or risk factor for mental disorders. Screen-positive women were also more often smokers (p<0.001) and were unemployed or on sick leave (p<0.001). Depression and anxiety, along with severe fear of childbirth were more common among the screen-positive women (p<0.001). Screen-positive women also used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) more than controls (p<0.001). There was no difference between groups regarding eating disorders. The findings suggest that the EPDS may useful in detecting symptoms of depression and comorbid mental disorders during pregnancy.


Cox et al. BrJ Psychiatry 1987;150:782-786.

Lilliecreutz et al. Acta Obste Gynecol Scand 2021;00:1-7. Abstract

     Additional Information:

2021 NEI Synapse: Virtual Half-Days
Female Mental Health
CME credits: 3.5 | Date: February 27, 2021
Encore Presentation
Maternal Mental Health: Addressing Peri- and Postpartum Depression

CME credit: 0.75 | Expires: November 8, 2023
NEI Resources
Topic: Pregnancy/Postpartum
NEI Podcast
Episode 34 - Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month with Dr. Marlene Freeman