Postpartum Depression: Pathophysiology, Treatment, and Emerging Therapeutics

Annu Rev Med. 2019 Jan 27;70:183-196. doi: 10.1146/annurev-med-041217-011106.


Postpartum depression (PPD) is common, disabling, and treatable. The strongest risk factor is a history of mood or anxiety disorder, especially having active symptoms during pregnancy. As PPD is one of the most common complications of childbirth, it is vital to identify best treatments for optimal maternal, infant, and family outcomes. New understanding of PPD pathophysiology and emerging therapeutics offer the potential for new ways to add to current medications, somatic treatments, and evidence-based psychotherapy. The benefits and potential harms of treatment, including during breastfeeding, are presented.

Keywords: allopregnanolone; emerging therapies; genetic aspects; pathophysiology; postpartum depression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depression, Postpartum / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum / physiopathology*
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pregnancy
  • Prognosis
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents