Assessment and treatment of depression during pregnancy: an update

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2003 Sep;26(3):547-62. doi: 10.1016/s0193-953x(03)00046-7.


Depression occurs commonly during pregnancy, and women with recurrent depression are at particularly high risk for depressive illness in this setting. Though the use of psychotropic medications during pregnancy raises concerns, there are data to support the use of certain antidepressants, including fluoxetine and the tricyclic antidepressants. Data on the newer SSRI antidepressants is gradually accumulating and is encouraging. None of the SSRIS or TCAs have been associated with an increased risk of congenital malformation. However, information on the long-term neurobehavioral effects of these medications still remains limited. As depression during pregnancy carries risk for both the mother and child, it is crucial to diagnose depression in this setting and to provide appropriate treatment strategies. Further data on nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic strategies is needed to aid in the treatment of this challenging clinical population. The clinician must weigh the relative risks of various treatment options and take into account individual patient wishes. Such a process will lead to thoughtful treatment choices, which with close clinical follow-up can minimize the risk for maternal morbidity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / chemically induced
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Contraindications
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors