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Fam Pract. 2008 Dec;25(6):450-5. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmn056. Epub 2008 Sep 30.

Women's views and experiences of antidepressants as a treatment for postnatal depression: a qualitative study.

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  • 1Academic Unit of Primary Health Care, Department of Community Based Medicine, University of Bristol, 25 Belgrave Road, Bristol BS8 2AA.



Antidepressants are frequently prescribed by GPs for postnatal depression (PND). Patients, however, may be reluctant to take medication and have concerns that result in poor treatment adherence. Few studies have explored women's views and experiences of antidepressants as a treatment for PND. GPs need to understand women's views and experiences if they are to address their concerns and improve treatment adherence.


To explore women's views and experiences of antidepressants as a treatment for PND.


In-depth interviews with 27 women in three UK cities who had been diagnosed with PND and taken part in a randomized controlled trial. During the trial, participants could receive antidepressants and/or non-directive counselling. Data were analysed thematically.


Most participants stated that they had held negative views towards antidepressants at the time of randomization. Some participants reported that, over the course of their illness, through time and contact with others, including health professionals, their views towards antidepressants had changed and that they had gone on to take medication. Most interviewees who had taken antidepressants reported benefits, although some remained concerned about taking medication.


Women's views of antidepressants can change in response to their treatment options and experiences, the views of friends and relatives and their contact with health professionals. GPs should assess women's concerns about antidepressants prior to prescribing them for PND and should provide regular follow-up for women on medication. This should lead to greater treatment adherence and thus earlier resolution of symptoms.

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