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Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2009 Jan;22(1):13-8. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283169375.

Managing unipolar depression in pregnancy.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.



The management of depression in pregnancy is complex, as it is based on balancing the risks with the benefits of treatment versus no treatment for both the mother and the fetus. The current literature in the field of reproductive psychiatry is difficult to navigate and at times contradictory. This article aims to review both nonpharmacological and pharmacological modalities in the treatment of perinatal depression. A literature review using PubMed and MEDLINE databases was used to collect literature from the past 2 years; however, given the relatively small amount of research in reproductive psychiatry, several salient articles from the past 5 years have also been included in this review.


Recent US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada warnings regarding poor neonatal adaptation and adverse perinatal outcomes associated with antidepressant use in pregnancy have changed patterns of practice for prescribing physicians. Many physicians are now left with a sense of indecisiveness regarding the safety of treating their depressed, pregnant patients. Similarly, these warnings have changed patients' attitudes and their willingness to consider pharmacological treatment for depression. Although these warnings demand attention and careful consideration, research has also shown that exposure to mental illness in pregnancy has deleterious short-term and long-term effects for the exposed mother and fetus.


The field of reproductive psychiatry is rapidly evolving. Clinicians need to keep abreast of changes in the management of depression during pregnancy. Ongoing research in this field is important so that the most up-to-date recommendations may be provided to pregnant women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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