Skip to main content

Comparative Incidence of Depression in Women and Men, During Pregnancy and after Childbirth: Validation of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in Portuguese Mothers

  • M. E. G. Areias (a1), R. Kumar (a2), H. Barros (a3) and E. Figueiredo (a1)

Comparing women's and men's emotional reactions to childbirth can clarify the impact on mental health of childbirth as a life event.


Fifty-four first-time mothers attending obstetric services in Oporto, Portugal, and 42 of their husbands or partners participated in a longitudinal study of their mental health. All subjects were given a semi-structured clinical interview (SADS) at 6 months antenatally and at 12 months postnatally and sub-samples were interviewed at 3 months postnatally. At all these times all the mothers and fathers also completed a translated version of a self-rating scale for depression, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS).


More women than men had past histories of depression but their rates of depression did not differ significantly during pregnancy. In the first 3 months postnatally, nearly a quarter of the women ‘at risk’ were found to have become depressed (major, minor and intermittent) in contrast with less than 5% of the men. In the next nine months men were more prone to become depressed than previously and their conditions tended to follow an earlier onset of depression in their spouses.


Comparisons of EPDS and SADS ratings showed that the translated EPDS was a valid instrument for women but it was less satisfactory when applied to men.

Corresponding author
Professor R. Kumar, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF
Hide All
Areias, M. E. G., Kumar, R., Barros, H., et al (1996b) Correlates of postnatal depression in mothers and fathers. British Journal of Psychiatry, 169, 3641.
Armitage, P. & Berry, G. (1987) Statistical Methods in Medical Research (2nd edn). Oxford: Blackwell Scientific.
Augusto, A., Kumar, R., Calheiros, J. M., et al (1996) Postnatal depression in an urban area of Portugal: Comparison of childbearing women and matched controls. Psychological Medicine, 26, 135141.
Ballard, C. G., Davis, R., Cullen, P. C., et al (1994) Prevalence of postnatal psychiatric morbidity in mothers and fathers. British Journal of Psychiatry, 164, 782788.
Cox, J. L. (1986) Postnatal Depression: A Guide for Health Professions. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
Cox, J. L., Murray, D. & Chapman, G. (1993) A controlled study of the onset, duration and prevalence of postnatal depression. British Journal of Psychiatry, 163, 2731.
Drake, M. L., Verhulst, D. & Fawcett, J. (1988) Physical and psychological symptoms experienced by Canadian women and their husbands during pregnancy and the postpartum. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 13, 436440.
Endicott, J., Andreasen, N. & Spitzer, R. (1975) Family History–Research Diagnostic Criteria. New York: Biometrics Research, N.Y. State Psychiatric Institute.
Fawcett, J. & York, R. (1986) Spouses' physical and psychological symptoms during pregnancy and the postpartum. Nursing Research, 35, 144148.
Fletcher, R. H., Fletcher, S. & Wagner, E. H. (1988) Clinical Epidemiology – The Essentials (2nd edn). Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.
Graffar, M. (1956) Une méthode de classification sociale d'échantillon de la population. Courier, 6, 455.
Kumar, R. & Ro$bson, K. M. (1984) A prospective study of neurotic disorders in childbearing women. British Journal of Psychiatry, 144, 3547.
O*Hara, M. W. & Zekoski, E. M. (1988) Postpartum depression: a comprehensive review. In Motherhood and Mental Illness (eds Kumar, R. & Brockington, I. F.), pp. 1763. London: Wright.
Pitt, B. (1968) “Atypical” depression following childbirth. British Journal of Psychiatry, 114, 13251335.
Quadagno, D. M., Dixon, L. A., Denney, N. W., et al (1986) Postpartum moods in men and women. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 154, 10181023.
Registrar General (1971) Classification of Occupations. London: HMSO.
Spitzer, R., Endicott, J. & Robins, E. (1978) Research Diagnostic Criteria: Rationale and Reliability. Archives of General Psychiatry, 35, 773782.
Wieck, A. (1989) Endocrine aspects of postnatal mental disorders. In Psychological Aspects of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ed. Oates, M. R.), pp. 857877. London: Baillière Tindall.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

Comparative Incidence of Depression in Women and Men, During Pregnancy and after Childbirth: Validation of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in Portuguese Mothers

  • M. E. G. Areias (a1), R. Kumar (a2), H. Barros (a3) and E. Figueiredo (a1)
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *