Postpartum Depression in The Arab Region: A Systematic Literature Review

Khubaib Ayoub1, Amira Shaheen1, *, Shakoor Hajat2
1 Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Rafidia Street, P.O.Box 7, Nablus, Palestine
2 Department of Social & Environmental 9 Health Research (SEHR), Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15- 17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SH, UAE

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© 2020 Ayoub et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, An-Najah National University, Rafidia Street, P.O.Box 7, Nablus, Palestine; E-mail:



Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a major public health problem affecting mothers and their babies. However, few studies have investigated the prevalence and risk factors for postpartum depression among Arab mothers. This systematic literature review aims to determine the prevalence of PPD among mothers in Arab countries and identify the main risk factors.


A review of all peer-reviewed journal published studies on PPD and its risk factors among Arab mothers until February 2016. The following data bases were searched; PubMed, Springlink, Science direct, EBSCOhost, and Arabpsychnet.


25 studies were included in the review. PPD rates were high in general but prevalences were close to the rates observed in other low and lower-middle-income countries. Twelve studies reported PPD prevalences in the region of 15-25%, 7 studies reported prevalences< 15% and 6 studies reported prevalences<25%. The most important risk factors for PPD were: low income and socioeconomic status, obstetric complications during pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy, ill infant, formula feeding, low social and husband support, marital and in-laws conflicts, stressful life events during pregnancy and personal or family history of depression.


Prevalence of PPD is high in most Arab countries, with differences due in part to variations in methods of assessment. This review highlights the problem of PPD and advocates for the adoption of necessary changes in the Arab health systems such as routine screening and efficient referral systems in order to detect and treat this potentially debilitating condition.

Keywords: Postpartum depression, Arab region, Public health problem, Infants, Unwanted pregnancy, Socioeconomic status.