Anxiety and depression following preeclampsia or hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets syndrome. A systematic review

Denise H. J. Delahaije*, Carmen D. Dirksen, Louis L. Peeters, Luc J. Smits

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Women who suffered from pregnancy complications are at increased risk for anxiety and depression. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether having suffered from preeclampsia (PE) or HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelets) syndrome is associated with anxiety and depression, and whether PE/HELLP is an independent risk factor for developing anxiety and depression. Systematic search on PubMed and PsycInfo with no time limit. Studies presenting original data, including women with a history of PE/HELLP and at least one comparison group of women without PE/HELLP, reporting the results for each group separately or in a multivariate regression analysis with PE/HELLP as an independent variable. Study characteristics and outcomes were extracted using a prespecified form. If necessary, additional calculations were performed. The search yielded 267 articles, with only six being suitable for inclusion in this review. Studies on depression (six studies) showed generally positive associations between PE/HELLP and the prevalence of depression or severity of depressive symptoms. However, the results of three studies were not statistically significant. Studies addressing anxiety (two studies) did not show significant associations between PE/HELLP and anxiety scores. Associations between post-traumatic stress and PE/HELLP, investigated in four studies, were often nonsignificant. Due to heterogeneity of study methods, a meta-analysis of the results was not possible. In most studies, confounder control was poor. Evidence is mixed but generally points to positive associations between various forms of psychopathology and previous PE/HELLP. Causality of the associations can, however, not be judged adequately.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)746-761
JournalActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Preeclampsia
  • HELLP (hemolysis elevated liver enzymes and low platelets) syndrome
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • post-traumatic stress

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