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

Lori L. Altshuler, Lee S. Cohen, Allison F. Vitonis, Stephen V. Faraone, Bernard L. Harlow, Rita Suri, Richard Frieder, Zachary N. Stowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


  • Depression
  • Pregnancy
  • Rating scale
  • Screening

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