According to the World Health Organization, depression is now the leading cause of disability in the world and significantly contributes to the overall burden of disease. Maternal depression is a serious mental illness that not only affects the health of the mother but also affects the fetus and child. This article reviews the current state of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) use during the perinatal period and the associated developmental effects of antidepressant medication. Overall, we need more research to better understand the causes, consequences, and contributing factors of maternal depression to be able to decide how to best treat it in a way that is safe for the mother and her child. We actually know little about maternal health and maternal mental health, so funding agencies should make this a priority area. Without more research about the consequences of maternal depression compared with antidepressant treatment, women and their health care providers cannot make an informed decision about treatment.
Maternal depression is a serious mental illness that not only affects the health of the mother but also affects the fetus and child. Treatment with antidepressants (especially serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SRIs]) is common in depressed pregnant women and mothers but bears its own risk for the progeny. Due to a lack of research on the long-term consequences of each condition (i.e., untreated vs. treated depression), the question remains: whether a depressed women should take antidepressant medication during pregnancy and the postpartum. This article reviews the current state of SRI use during the perinatal period and the associated developmental effects of antidepressant medication. Furthermore, it discusses directions for improvement of future research as well as policy implications in regard to human and animal research. Without a better comprehension of the underlying mechanism that induces developmental effects, advising pregnant women and mothers will be difficult.
Treating Maternal Depression: Considerations for the Well-Being of the Mother and Child
First Published February 8, 2018 Research
From Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences