Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 345–354 | Cite as

Using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale for women and men—some cautionary thoughts

Original Article


The objective of the study was to critically consider some of the possible limitations in the Edinburgh Depression Scale (EDS), given that great emphasis is put on the results of this measure within both clinical and research fields. Using findings and discussion points from other studies, as well as from a critical analysis of issues by the authors based upon their clinical and research experience, possible limitations with the scale in nine areas are discussed. Possible limitations include the following: (1) ambiguous items, (2) exclusion of certain types of distress, (3) scoring difficulties, (4) low positive predictive value, (5) frequent use of incorrect cut-off scores, (6) a vast array of validated cut-off scores, (7) validation against a questionable gold-standard, (8) limited anxiety detection and of depressive symptoms in men, and (9) many screen positive women only have transient distress. While the EDS has unquestionably been an extremely valuable instrument in aiding in the recognition of the importance of perinatal mental health, users of the scale should be aware that it, like other measures, has limitations. We discuss possible strategies to overcome these limitations and describe a recent scale that has been developed to surmount these shortcomings more effectively.


Postnatal depression or distress EPDS Screening Measurement 




Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.South Western Sydney Local Health DistrictUniversity of Sydney and UNSWSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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