The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) is frequently used to screen for postpartum depression. However, its factor structure exhibits noticeable inconsistencies between studies. We examined the EPDS at two postpartum time points using a large dataset from outside Western countries. Participants were 91,063 mothers in an ongoing birth cohort of the Japan Environment and Children’s Study. One-, two-, and three-factor structures of the EPDS at 1- and 6-months postpartum were extracted using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with oblique rotation. Goodness-of-fit indices of extracted factor structures were compared with prior ones by conducting a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). CFA revealed that a three-factor model extracted from the current EFA—anxiety (items 3, 4, 5, and 6), depression (items 7, 9, and 10), and anhedonia (items 1 and 2)—showed acceptably high goodness-of-fit and invariability across time. These three factors explained about 65% of the total variance with good reliability (all Cronbach’s αs ≥ 0.70). Most three-factor structures (vs. two-) showed higher goodness-of-fit indices. In conclusion, although we only examined the postpartum period, the EPDS likely comprises three dimensions: anxiety, depression, and anhedonia. Our findings raise questions about the one- or two-factor structure of the EPDS. Trial registration: UMIN000030786.
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