The humanistic burden of postpartum depression: a systematic literature review

Current Medical Research and Opinion. 2019 Mar;35(3):383-393


Postpartum depression (PPD) is the most common medical complication of childbirth. PPD can be disabling, with potential negative effects on maternal health-related quality-of-life (HRQoL) as well as on children and partners. The objective of this study was to systematically review and summarize recently published literature describing the humanistic burden of PPD on affected women, their children, and partners.


Databases including Embase, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO, as well as conference proceedings were searched for keywords related to PPD. Searches were initially conducted in February 2017 and restricted to the prior 5 years for databases and the prior 2 years for conference proceedings. Searches were updated in February 2018. Two researchers independently reviewed 1154 unique records according to pre-defined inclusion and exclusion screening criteria.


Forty-eight studies were identified; over 40 studies assessed the effects of PPD on children of affected mothers, with many demonstrating a negative association with elements of parenting and childhood development. Furthermore, five studies that evaluated the effects of PPD symptoms on partners suggested that certain aspects of their relationships were negatively affected. Partners of affected women also experienced greater levels of their own stress, anxiety, and depression compared with partners of women without PPD symptoms. Despite limited data on HRQoL among women with PPD symptoms (four studies), a negative impact on physical and mental sub-scales was observed.


Findings suggest that PPD symptoms have a substantial humanistic burden on affected mothers as well as on their children and partners.

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Moore Simas TA, Huang MY, Patton C, Reinhart M, Chawla AJ, Clemson C, Eldar-Lissai A