Unipolar Depression During Pregnancy: Nonpharmacologic Treatment Options

Christopher Tjoa; Emmanuelle Pare; Deborah R Kim


Women's Health. 2010;6(4):565-576. 

In This Article

Future Perspective

The culmination of safety studies looking at antidepressant medications is likely to result in low but established rates of teratogenicity and perinatal complications. Further epidemiologic data will likely establish the low but significant rate of complications related to untreated depression during pregnancy and add to the importance of the availability of lower or negligible-risk treatment alternatives. Women burdened with decisions informed by these studies may opt to undergo treatment for depression, but find any documented fetal risk to be unsatisfactory. Research on alternative treatments for depression should expand upon current findings, showing exercise therapy, phototherapy and accupuncture to be effective treatment strategies for depression with studied effect sizes similar to those for pharmaceutical and psychotherapeutic treatments for mild-to-moderate depression. Further studies of ECT will help quantify its perinatal risks, and inform the cost–benefit decisions made for the treatment of severe MDEs. Controlled trials of TMS in pregnant women will likely mirror the moderate to large effect sizes already shown for MDD, potentially offering pregnant women a time-intensive but safe procedure for more treatment-refractory MDEs.


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