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Screening for Postpartum
Depression in New Jersey

In New Jersey, between 11,000 and 16,000 women suffer from postpartum depression (PPD) each year. PPD is a perinatal mood disorder that affects one in eight women - usually within the first year after childbirth, miscarriage or stillbirth.

On April 13, 2006, Governor Jon Corzine signed legislation (N.J.S.A. 26:2-175 et seq.) requiring that healthcare professionals educate and screen all new mothers for PPD. New Jersey was the first state in the country to enact such a law.

The purpose of the Act is to help mothers and their families take action against the effects of PPD through early identification and education. By informing new mothers about the symptoms and providing them with the services that are available in their community, families will be able to recognize sumptoms of PPD and take immediate action to ensure appropriate and effective treatment for the mother.

Although the signs and severity of symptoms vary from person to person, several screening tools have been developed to detect this perinatal mood disorder. One widely accepted screening tool for PPD is The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), which has been developed to assist healthcare professionals in detecting mothers at risk for this condition, and many hospitals in New Jersey have elected to use this tool.

Facts on the Edinburgh Scale:

  • Developed in Scotland at health centers in Livingston and Edinburgh
  • Focuses on the mother's feelings during the past seven days
  • Consists of 10 short statements, which mothers can complete without difficulty in less than five minutes
  • Has a maximum score of 30; a score of 10 or more may indicate possible depression of varying severity
  • Validation studies show that for mothers who scored above threshold, 92.3 percent were likely to be suffering from a depressive illness of varying severity
  • Should not override clinical judgment. A careful clinical assessment should be carried out to confirm the diagnosis
  • Will not detect mothers with anxiety neuroses, phobias or personality disorder

Download PDF (English 12KB)       Download PDF (Spanish 15KB)

Instructions for users:

  • The mother is asked to underline the response that comes closest to how she has been feeling in the previous 7 days. All ten items must be completed.
  • Care should be taken to avoid the possibility of the mother discussing her answers with others.
  • The mother should complete the scale herself, unless she has limited English or has difficulty with reading.
  • The EPDS may be used at 6-8 weeks to screen postnatal women. The child health clinic, postnatal check-up or a home visit may provide suitable opportunities for its completion.

Guidelines for Evaluation:

Response categories are scored 0, 1, 2, and 3 according to increased severity of the symptom. Questions 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 are reverse scored (i.e., 3, 2, 1, 0)

Individual items are totaled to give an overall score. A score of 12+ indicates the likelihood of depression, but not its severity. The EPDS score is designed to assist, not replace, clinical judgment. Women should be further assessed before deciding on treatment.

This scale may be reproduced by users without further permission providing they respect copyright by quoting the names of the authors, the title and the source of the paper in all reproduced copies.

As you have recently had a baby, we would like to know how you are feeling. Please UNDERLINE the answer that comes closest to how you have felt IN THE PAST 7 DAYS, not just how you feel today.

  1. I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things.
    • As much as I always could
    • Not quite so much now
    • Definitely not so much now
    • Not at all
  2. I have looked forward with enjoyment to things.
    • As much as I ever did
    • Rather less than I used to
    • Definitely less than I used to
    • Hardly at all
  3. I have blamed myself unnecessarily when things went wrong.
    • Yes, most of the time
    • Yes, some of the time
    • Not very often
    • No, never
  4. I have been anxious or worried for no good reason.
    • No, not at all
    • Hardly ever
    • Yes, sometimes
    • Yes, very often
  5. I have felt scared or panicky for no very good reason.
    • Yes, quite a lot
    • Yes, sometimes
    • No, not much
    • No, not at all
  6. Things have been getting on top of me.
    • Yes, most of the time I haven't been able to cope at all
    • Yes, sometimes I haven't been coping as well as usual
    • No, most of the time I have coped quite well
    • No, I have been coping as well as ever
  7. I have been so unhappy that I have had difficulty sleeping.
    • Yes, most of the time
    • Yes, sometimes
    • Not very often
    • No, not at all
  8. I have felt sad or miserable.
    • Yes, most of the time
    • Yes, quite often
    • Not very often
    • No, not at all
  9. I have been so unhappy that I have been crying..
    • Yes, most of the time
    • Yes, quite often
    • Only occasionally
    • No, never
  10. The thought of harming myself has occurred to me.
    • Yes, most of the time
    • Yes, quite often
    • Only occasionally
    • No, never

Perinatal mood disorders are treatable. But first you have to ask for help.

call the helpline 24/7 at


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Last Modified: Thursday, 12-Jul-12 11:44:55