Using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale to screen for anxiety disorders

Depress Anxiety. 2008;25(11):926-31. doi: 10.1002/da.20415.


Screening for postnatal mood disorders in English-speaking women often uses the validated cut-off score of 13 or more on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to detect probable major depression. Increasingly there is evidence that for many women, and men, anxiety disorders can occur postnatally in the absence of depression. This study therefore examined data on the three EPDS items frequently found to cluster together on an anxiety factor for women (items 3, 4, and 5: EPDS-3A), to determine the optimum cut-off score to screen for specified anxiety disorders. A sample of 238 women and 218 men were administered a diagnostic interview for anxiety and depressive disorders, and completed the EPDS, at 6 weeks postpartum. The receiver operating characteristics show that the optimum cut-off score on the EPDS-3A for women is 6 or more (possible range: 0-9), and for men it is 4 or more, though it appears that the factor structure for men is different than for women. The conclusion is that the EPDS can be used to screen for probable depression in women (using the validated total cut-off score of 13 or more) and also probable anxiety (using the EPDS-3A cut-off score of 6 or more). For men there is already a validated total cut-off score for both depression and anxiety (6 or more)--however, if services are not using this, they can use the EPDS-3A score of 4 or more to screen for probable anxiety disorders in fathers, though further work needs to be undertaken to clarify whether the anxiety factor structure for men is different to that found for women.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology*
  • Fathers / psychology
  • Fathers / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*