Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 13 (1), 89-100

New Insights Into Perinatal Depression: Pathogenesis and Treatment During Pregnancy and Postpartum


New Insights Into Perinatal Depression: Pathogenesis and Treatment During Pregnancy and Postpartum

Samantha Meltzer-Brody. Dialogues Clin Neurosci.


Maternal perinatal mental health has enormous consequences for the well-being of the mother, her baby, and the family. Although it is well documented that perinatal depression is both common and morbid, with a prevalence of 10% to 15% in the general population, there remain many critically important unanswered questions about the pathogenesis of perinatal depression and most effective treatment regimens. Current lines of evidence from both human and animal models implicate hormonal dysregulation, abnormalities in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity, and the contributions of genetics and epigenetics as playing key roles in the development of perinatal reproductive mood disorders. Investigations into both human and animal models of perinatal depression offer much promise for the future identification of the underlying pathophysiology and subsequent early identification and/or prevention and appropriate treatment for women at risk for postpartum depression. Lastly, although it is generally accepted that pregnancy is not protective with regard to new onset or relapse of depression, the way to best treat maternal depression during pregnancy and lactation remains hotly debated. Future research in this area will more clearly elucidate the underlying pathogenesis, the potential long-term impact of perinatal depression on the developing fetus, and how best to counsel pregnant women about the risks of untreated major depressive disorder versus the risks of psychopharmacologic treatment during pregnancy and lactation.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 48 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Gavin NI., Gaynes BN., Lohr KN., Meltzer-Brody S., Gartlehner G., Swinson T. Perinatal depression: a systematic review of prevalence and incidence. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;106(5 Pt 1):1071–1083. - PubMed
    1. Gaynes BN., Gavin N., Meltzer-Brody S., et al. Perinatal depression: prevalence, screening accuracy, and screening outcomes. Evidence report/technology assessment (Summary). 2005;119:1–8. - PMC - PubMed
    1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist, Committee on Obstetric Practice. Committee opinion no. 453: screening for depression during and after pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. 2010;115:394–395. - PubMed
    1. ACOG Practice Bulletin: Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists number 92, April 2008 (replaces practice bulletin number 87, November 2007) Use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy and lactation. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2008;111:1001–1020. - PubMed
    1. National Collaborating Center for Mental Health. Antenatal and postnatal mental health: the NICE guideline on clinical management and service guidance. The British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists 2007