Assessing women for perinatal anxiety

Assessing women for possible perinatal anxiety involves considering their answer to the psychosocial question on “worrying” and identifying possible symptoms using questions 3, 4 and 5 of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).

About the EPDS

The EPDS is a questionnaire developed to assist in identifying symptoms of depression. It is also useful in identifying symptoms of anxiety. The EPDS is not a diagnostic tool; rather it aims to identify women who may benefit from follow-up care, such as mental health assessment, which may lead to a diagnosis based on accepted diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR or ICD-10).

Translated versions of the EPDS have been validated in some languages.

How often the EPDS should be completed

All women should complete the EPDS at least once, preferably twice, in both the antenatal period and the postnatal period (ideally 6–12 weeks after the birth).

The non-diagnostic nature of the EPDS, its purpose and the fact that it relates to the previous 7 days (not just that day) should be clearly explained.

When follow-up care is required

Follow-up for further assessment for anxiety disorders may be needed if a woman’s answer to the psychosocial question (link to psychosocial questions) on “worrying” or her scores on Questions 3, 4 and 5 suggest possible symptoms of anxiety.

When is follow-up care required for anxiety disorders?







Note: Follow-up is also needed if the total score is 13 or more or if a woman has a positive score on Question 10 (self-harm).


See also

Managing anxiety in the perinatal period

Things to remember about perinatal anxiety

Help for perinatal patients under Medicare