Psychoneuroimmunology and Postpartum Depression

Oana Denisa Bălălău, Cristina Răduță, Nicolae Bacalbașa, Anca Silvia Dumitriu, Stana Paunica, Cristian Bălălău


Depression is the most common mental illness at the community level. It is estimated that annually 3-15% of the general population has a depressive episode. An increasing number of cases are identified among pregnant patients.

Thus, WHO has been recommending screening for pregnancy and pregnancy depression since 2015.

The causes of depressive pathology are not fully known. The most commonly identified factors are related to biochemical disorders in the brain, psychological or social causes or the administration of drugs with the potential to induce depressive phenomena: antihypertensives, oral contraceptives, hormones, anti-inflammatory drugs.

The association of hypertension with pregnancy can determine an increased risk of depression in pregnancy or childbirth. Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy cause an altered inflammatory response, with several studies identifying significant increased levels of IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-alpha in pregnant women with preeclampsia. Although hypertensive manifestations remit in approx. 6 weeks postpartum, studies have shown that the inflammatory syndrome persists for up to 3.5 months. Serum IL-6 levels are associated with preeclampsia severity and foetal status.

Inflammatory, neuronal and hormonal changes are found in both pathologies, thus explaining the causal links between hypertensive disorders in pregnancy and postpartum depression.

Current researchers have relied on the evaluation of a possible involvement of oxidative stress. Its association with depression is frequently identified, the severity of symptoms being directly proportional to the level of markers of oxidative stress.


Clinical Psychology; Gestational hypertension; Psychoneuroimmunology; Postpartum depression.

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