Preeclampsia as a risk factor for postpartum depression and psychosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2020 Aug;23(4):493-505. doi: 10.1007/s00737-019-01010-1. Epub 2019 Dec 4.


Postpartum depression (PPD) and postpartum psychosis (PPP) are serious mental conditions that are usually not diagnosed early enough, leading to delayed treatment. Several studies confirmed an association between preeclampsia (PE) and psychiatric disorders during pregnancy. We conducted a systematic review of the literature aiming to investigate whether women with a history of PE are more likely to develop PPD or PPP, and whether PE is a risk factor for depression outside the perinatal period (PROSPERO protocol number CRD42018114188). We also conducted a meta-analysis to quantitatively assess the severity of depressive symptoms between women with and without a history of PE. A literature search with no year and no language restriction was conducted. The search yielded 950 articles, with 698 remaining after duplicate removal, and 13 being suitable for the systematic review. Eight of the 13 studies found an association between preeclampsia and depression. All studies assessed the impact of PE on depression, and only two studies assessed the impact of PE on PPP. Eight of the studies were included in the meta-analysis, which yielded a higher severity of depressive symptoms postpartum in women with PE. However, these results must be interpreted with caution considering the high heterogeneity of the included studies. Our meta-analysis also showed that women with a history of PE showed higher severity of depressive symptoms outside of the puerperal period. In conclusion, this systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that that PE is not only a risk factor for development of depression, but it is also associated with higher severity of depressive symptoms.

Keywords: Depression; Postpartum psychosis; Preeclampsia; Pregnancy; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / complications*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications*
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult