Original Contribution

Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 277-285

The Pregnancy Depression Scale (PDS): a screening tool for depression in pregnancy

  • Lori L. AltshulerAffiliated withMood Disorders Research Program, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California Email author 
  • , Lee S. CohenAffiliated withPerinatal and Reproductive Psychiatry Clinical Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School
  • , Allison F. VitonisAffiliated withObstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • , Stephen V. FaraoneAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Upstate Medical University, State University of New York Upstate Medical UniversityDepartment of Physiology, Upstate Medical University, State University of New York Upstate Medical University
  • , Bernard L. HarlowAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
  • , Rita SuriAffiliated withMood Disorders Research Program, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California
  • , Richard FriederAffiliated withDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Family Medicine, University of California
  • , Zachary N. StoweAffiliated withWomen’s Mental Health Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, Emory University

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Abstract

Depression in pregnancy can be underdiagnosed as a consequence of the symptoms being misattributed to “normal pregnancy.” There are currently no validated clinician-rated scales that assess for depression specifically during pregnancy. We sought to develop a brief, convenient screening tool to identify depression in pregnant women in the community setting. Prospective mood data using the 28-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) were collected monthly in 196 pregnant women with a history of a major depressive disorder. These data were analyzed to delineate those HDRS items associated (elevated) with normal pregnancy vs. those indicative of a pregnant woman meeting diagnostic criteria for a major depressive episode. Endorsement of symptoms on seven items of the HDRS were highly predictive of having a major depressive episode during pregnancy. We present a well-validated, brief scale to screen pregnant women for clinical depression. Whether this study will generalize to women who do not have a history of major depression remains to be studied.

Keywords

Pregnancy Depression Screening Rating scale