(PDSS™) Postpartum Depression Screening Scale™

By Cheryl Tatano Beck, DNSc, and Robert K. Gable, EdD

(PDSS™) Postpartum Depression Screening Scale™


Gives clinicians a quick, systematic way to address postpartum depression and a valid assessment on which to base treatment


For new mothers of any age

Admin Time

5-10 minutes




Based on two samples: 525 new mothers of various ethnicities and 150 women recruited through childbirth classes and newspaper ads

Publish Date



Level C required.
About Qualification Levels


Available in Italian

Published Translations
Have a Question?

Call 800.648.8857



Show details for PDSS Kit

Product #: W-380


Includes 25 AutoScore Test Forms; Manual


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PDSS AutoScore™ Test Form (Pack of 25)

Show details for PDSS AutoScore™ Test Form (Pack of 25)

Product #: W-380A

PDSS AutoScore™ Test Form (Pack of 25)


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Manuals & Resources

PDSS Manual

Show details for PDSS Manual

Product #: W-380B

PDSS Manual


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Continuing Education

PDSS Manual CE Materials

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Product #: W-380CE

PDSS Manual CE Materials

Includes Questionnaire and Evaluation Form. To receive 2 continuing education (CE) credits for mastering the PDSS Manual (W-380B, sold separately), complete and return these materials.


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Spanish Language

PDSS Test Form In Spanish (Pack of 10)

Show details for PDSS Test Form In Spanish (Pack of 10)

Product #: W-380S

PDSS Test Form In Spanish (Pack of 10)

Includes Manual Supplement for Spanish Form. This form contains test items only. To use it, you also need the AutoScore Test Form (W-380A).


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(PDSS™) Postpartum Depression Screening Scale™

(PDSS™) Postpartum Depression Screening Scale™


Although postpartum depression is not uncommon among new mothers, it often goes undetected. And if untreated, it can adversely affect a mother’s functioning as well as her infant’s development.

A Measure of Overall Severity and Seven Specific Symptoms

With the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale (PDSS), clinicians can identify mothers suffering from postpartum depression—early and easily. This 35-item, self-report instrument can be administered in just 5 to 10 minutes. Used as a brief screening device, it identifies women who are at high risk for postpartum depression, so that health care professionals can then refer them for definitive diagnosis and treatment.

Written at a third-grade reading level, PDSS items are brief and easy to understand. Mothers respond using a 5-point scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” The test yields an overall severity score falling into one of three ranges:

Normal adjustment
Significant symptoms of postpartum depression
Positive screen for major postpartum depression

In addition, the PDSS provides scores for seven symptom areas:

  • Sleeping/Eating Disturbances
  • Anxiety/Insecurity
  • Emotional Lability
  • Mental Confusion
  • Loss of Self
  • Guilt/Shame
  • Suicidal Thoughts

An Inconsistent Responding Index is also included to measure response validity. Standardization is based on two samples: 525 new mothers of various ethnic backgrounds and 150 women recruited through childbirth classes and newspaper ads prior to giving birth. 

A Quick Gauge of Suicidal Thinking

The first seven items on the scale can function as a Short Form. Completed in just a minute or two, this Short Form provides only a Total Score, though a woman’s response to item seven can be used to gauge her level of suicidal thinking.

Treatment Guidelines

The PDSS can be used across various specialties, including obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and social work. It can be administered as early as 2 weeks after delivery. In addition to indicating which mothers need to be referred for a complete diagnostic work-up and treatment, the scale guides and informs treatment by means of the symptom profile it produces. And its brevity and economy make the PDSS ideal for monitoring treatment response.

Given the high incidence of postpartum depression, the current low rate of detection, and the potentially serious consequences, the PDSS is extremely useful in identifying women who need focused attention from mental health professionals.

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