Pharmacotherapy of postpartum depression: an update

Deborah R Kim, C Neill Epperson, Amy R Weiss, Katherine L Wisner
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 2014, 15 (9): 1223-34

INTRODUCTION: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a common and serious illness that affects up to 14% of women in the first month after childbirth. We present an update on the pharmacologic treatment of PPD, although there continues to be a lack of large, randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

AREAS COVERED: A review of the literature on the use of antidepressants, hormonal supplements and omega-3 fatty acids for the prevention and the treatment of PPD published since the original review in 2009 and the authors' opinion on the current status of the pharmacological treatment of PPD are covered. An electronic search was performed by using PubMed, Medline and PsychINFO. Inclusion criteria were: i) empirical articles in peer-reviewed English-language journals; ii) well-validated measures of depression; and iii) a uniform scoring system for depression among the sample.

EXPERT OPINION: Since the last Expert Opinion review, four antidepressant treatment studies and one prevention study of PPD have been published. Six RCTs evaluating the use of omega-3 fatty acids (four for prevention and two for treatment) have been published. There continues to be lack of data regarding the pharmacotherapy of PPD. However, serotonin reuptake inhibitors should be considered first-line for women with PPD after it has been determined that the proper diagnosis is not bipolar disorder. It is important to individualize treatment for women with PPD and consider the risks and benefits of treatment while breastfeeding.

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