Relapse of depression during pregnancy following antidepressant discontinuation: a preliminary prospective study

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2004 Oct;7(4):217-21. doi: 10.1007/s00737-004-0059-3. Epub 2004 Aug 30.


Objective: Pregnancy has frequently been referred to as a time of emotional well-being for patients. However, systematic data about the risk for relapse of depression during pregnancy are sparse.

Method: We completed a longitudinal cohort study of thirty-two (N = 32) women with histories of depression who were euthymic at conception and who either discontinued or attempted to discontinue antidepressant therapy proximate to conception. Subjects were prospectively followed across pregnancy once per trimester using structured clinical interviews. Rates of relapse and time to relapse were examined. Factors distinguishing the population with respect to risk for relapse including demographic characteristics and illness history were also examined.

Results: Seventy-five percent (N = 24) of patients relapsed during pregnancy. The majority of relapses (79%, N = 19) occurred in the first trimester, and relapse was more prevalent in women with histories of more chronic depression.

Conclusions: Pregnancy is not "protective" with respect to risk for relapse of depression. Careful treatment planning is necessary for those women on antidepressants who plan to conceive or who become pregnant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Depressive Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology*


  • Antidepressive Agents