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A controlled study of postpartum depression among Nepalese women: validation of the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale in Kathmandu

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OBJECTIVES To measure the prevalence of depression amongst postpartum and non-postpartum Nepalese women in Kathmandu using the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale (EPDS) and to assess the ease of use and validity of the scale compared with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for major depression.

METHODS We screened 100 women 2–3 months post-delivery and 40 control women using the EPDS. All those who screened positive for depression and 20% of the negatives also underwent a structured interview to assess depression by DSM-IV criteria.

RESULTS Predictive errors were minimized by using an EPDS score ≥13 to define depression. Using this threshold, there was no difference in depression prevalence between postpartum women (12%) and the control group (12.5%) (Fisher's exact test, P > 0.05). Compared with DSM-IV, the sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive values were 100, 92.6 and 41.6%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS The prevalence of postpartum depression (PPD) in Nepalese women and the validity and ease of use of the EPDS in the setting of a postnatal clinic in Kathmandu are all surprisingly similar to the results of numerous studies in developed countries. Despite poor living conditions, PPD is no more common than the background depression rate amongst Nepalese women. It can be reliably detected by trained clinical nurses using the EPDS screening test. These results may have implications for the planning of mental health resources for women in other developing countries.

Keywords: Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale; Nepal; depression; developing world; postpartum depression

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Mental Health Resource Centre, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2: Medical Student at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 3: Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, 4: Association of Medical Doctors in Asia, Kathmandu, Nepal, 5: Centre for International Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Publication date: 2002-04-01

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