Publications & Reports

Depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder six months following preeclampsia and normotensive pregnancy: a P4 study.

Roberts L, Henry A, Harvey SB, Homer CSE, Davis GK

Abstract

Background: Mental health is an integral part of overall health. Mental health disorders following childbirth are common and poor maternal mental health has consequences for both the mother and her infant. Preeclampsia is also relatively common in pregnancy but there is little known about the intersection between these two important conditions. Gaining a better understanding of the psychological consequences following preeclampsia is important, especially the link with depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder. If women who experience preeclampsia are recognised as being at increased risk of poor mental health, targeted screening in the postpartum period should be implemented.

Aims: To describe the prevalence and symptom severity of depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder at six months postpartum in women, who had a diagnosis of preeclampsia, compared to those who had normal blood pressure in pregnancy.

Methods: The mental health component of the prospective cohort study, the Postpartum, Physiology, Psychology and Paediatric follow-up study (P4 Study) was used. Women diagnosed with preeclampsia (n = 90) and those who were normotensive during pregnancy (n = 302) completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, General Anxiety Disorder Scale, and the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale or Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Sclae-5 at six months postpartum.

Results: At six months postpartum, depressive scores were similar in both groups but a higher proportion of women from the preeclampsia group scored above the threshold for depression (2% v 7% p = 0.04). There were no differences between the groups in the prevalence or severity of anxiety or PTSD. However, more women in the preeclampsia group reported their birth experience as a traumatic event (1% vs 7%, p = 0.01). On correlation testing and modelling, booking Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score, any mental health history, experiencing birth as traumatic and the General Anxiety Disorder Scale score were independent predictors of postpartum Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale scores.

Conclusion: The postpartum clinical care of women with preeclampsia often focusses on the immediate physical health issues, but these women may also benefit from mental health screening. Targeted screening of preeclamptic women in the postpartum period may lead to more timely referral and initiation of treatment.

Trial registration: Retrospectively registered on 18/11/2013 with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry. Registration Number: ACTRN12613001260718 .

Link to publisher’s web site

Publication

  • Journal: BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Published: 07/02/2022
  • Volume: 22
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: 108

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