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Antidepressants in Pregnancy: A Review of Commonly Prescribed Medications

Patil, Avinash S. MD*; Kuller, Jeffrey A. MD; Rhee, Eleanor H. J. MD

Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey: December 2011 - Volume 66 - Issue 12 - p 777-787
doi: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e31823e0cbf

Perinatal depression is an increasingly common comorbidity of pregnancy and is associated with adverse birth outcomes. Newer classes of antidepressants have been developed with a variety of mechanisms and improved side effect profiles. There is increasing use of these medications in reproductive-aged women. Medical providers have to balance the need to prevent relapse of maternal depressive symptoms with the need to minimize fetal exposure to medications. We review the literature on 10 of the most commonly used antidepressant medications: citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, duloxetine, bupropion, and mirtazapine. The pharmacokinetic properties of the medications are detailed, as well as practical considerations for their use in pregnant and lactating women. Guidance on counseling and management of pregnancies complicated by perinatal depression is discussed.

Target Audience: Obstetricians & Gynecologists and Family Physicians.

Learning Objectives: After completing this CME activity, physicians should be better able to differentiate the current classes of medications utilized commonly for perinatal depression, evaluate the reported adverse effects of antidepressant medications on the patient and developing fetus and choose the appropriate antidepressant medications for a depressed patient who is breast-feeding.

*Fellow/Clinical Instructor, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University, and †Professor, ‡Assistant Professor, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University, Durham, NC

Chief Editor's Note: This article is part of a series of continuing education activities in this Journal through which a total of 36 AMA/PRA category 1 credits™ can be earned in 2006. Instructions for how CME credits can be earned appear on the last page of the Table of Contents.

The authors, faculty and staff in a position to control the content of this CME activity and their spouses/life partners (if any) have disclosed that they have no financial relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial organizations pertaining to this educational activity

Correspondence requests to: Avinash S. Patil, MD, Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3967, Durham, NC 27710. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.