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Postpartum depression: Help patients find the right treatment

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... Routine screening for depression during pregnancy and postpartum is recommended. 10,11 Unfortunately, peripartum depression screening does not always improve treatment engagement or patient outcomes. Studies have demonstrated that even when a depressive episode is identified, many women do not receive treatment. ...
... Self-report assessment tools are commonly employed to screen for postpartum depression. 10,11 A comprehensive review of these scales is beyond the scope of this review, but we refer readers to well validated screening tools that are available online (See Appendix 1). Once depressive symptoms have been identified, a comprehensive evaluation of risks and assets that influence the clinician's treatment recommendations and patient's treatment decision should be completed. ...
... Psychotherapy is an important first line treatment recommendation for her. 10 This option is particularly attractive for women who are reluctant to take medications while breastfeeding due to fear of exposing the newborn to medication. 16 Psychotherapies with the largest evidence base for the acute treatment of peripartum depression include Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). ...
Article
The mainstays of treatment for peripartum depression are psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. More research is needed to understand which treatments are safe, preferable, and effective. Postpartum depression, now termed peripartum depression by the DSM-V, is one of the most common complications in the postpartum period and has potentially significant negative consequences for mothers and their families. This article highlights common clinical challenges in the treatment of peripartum depression and reviews the evidence for currently available treatment options. Psychotherapy is the first-line treatment option for women with mild to moderate peripartum depression. Antidepressant medication in combination with therapy is recommended for women with moderate to severe depression. Although pooled case reports and small controlled studies have demonstrated undetectable infant serum levels and no short-term adverse events in infants of mothers breastfeeding while taking sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil), further research is needed including larger samples and long-term follow-up of infants exposed to antidepressants via breastfeeding controlling for maternal depression. Pharmacologic treatment recommendations for women who are lactating must include discussion with the patient regarding the benefits of breastfeeding, risks of antidepressant use during lactation, and risks of untreated illness. There is a growing evidence base for nonpharmacologic interventions including repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, which may offer an attractive option for women who wish to continue to breastfeed and are concerned about their infants being exposed to medication. Among severe cases of peripartum depression with psychosis, referral to a psychiatrist or psychiatric advanced practice registered nurse is warranted. Suicidal or homicidal ideation with a desire, intent, or plan to harm oneself or anyone else, including the infant, is a psychiatric emergency, and an evaluation by a mental health professional should be conducted immediately. Peripartum depression treatment research is limited by small sample sizes and few controlled studies. Much work is still needed to better understand which treatments women prefer and are the most effective in ameliorating the symptoms and disease burden associated with peripartum depression.
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To address problems with low rates of detection and treatment of depression of pregnant and postpartum women, many advocate depression screening in obstetrical settings. This study evaluated the Healthy Start depression initiative to assess whether it resulted in diminished rates of depressive symptoms and increased rates of detection, referral, and treatment among pregnant and postpartum women. Three cohorts were used to examine the program impact: a pre-Healthy Start depression initiative cohort, a post-Healthy Start depression initiative cohort that was enrolled in New Haven Healthy Start, and a post-Healthy Start depression initiative cohort not enrolled in the New Haven program. Participants included 1,336 pregnant and postpartum women receiving obstetrical care at publicly funded health care clinics. Measures included the Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Brief Patient Health Questionnaire; the PTSD Symptom Scale; a five-item modification of the Conflict Tactics Scale; and questions regarding alcohol, illicit substances, and general medical and obstetrical history. The Healthy Start depression initiative changed neither levels of depressive symptoms nor use of depression treatment in unselected populations. The initiative may have decreased the rate of referral for depression in the cohort under study. Universal screening and support for treatment referral by paraprofessionals did not reduce the overall rates of depressive symptoms of perinatal women who received care at publicly funded obstetrical clinics. Future work on depression screening should consider strategies to engage women who are more severely affected by a depressive disorder in behavioral health treatment.
Article
Venlafaxine use during pregnancy has increased over the past decade in concert with accumulating reproductive safety data; however, systematic data on venlafaxine during lactation remain sparse. The current study characterizes the level and determinants of venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine concentrations in breast milk and in nursing infant plasma. Women participating in a prospective investigation of perinatal pharmacokinetics from January 2001 through July 2006 who were treated with venlafaxine and who chose to continue venlafaxine during lactation were included in the analysis. Breast milk samples were collected via breast pump from foremilk to hindmilk from a single breast to determine the excretion gradient, and serial samples were collected over 24 hours to determine the time course of excretion. Paired maternal/infant plasma samples were also collected. Venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine concentrations were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography with ultraviolet detection. Statistical analyses of breast milk and infant plasma concentrations and their determinants were conducted. Thirteen women and their nursing infants participated, providing 106 breast milk samples. The mean milk/plasma ratio was 275.3% (95% CI = 144.8% to 405.7%). There were statistically significant time courses of excretion for venlafaxine (R = 0.36, F = 6.82, P < .02), desvenlafaxine (R = 0.48, F = 4.41, P < .009), and combined venlafaxine/desvenlafaxine (R = 0.51, F = 5.16, P < .004), with the highest venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine concentrations in the breast milk occurring 8 hours after maternal ingestion. Infant plasma concentrations for combined venlafaxine/desvenlafaxine were 37.1% of maternal plasma concentrations. The theoretical infant venlafaxine/desvenlafaxine dose was 0.208 mg/kg/d, and the relative infant venlafaxine/desvenlafaxine dose was 8.1%. The theoretical and relative infant doses for desvenlafaxine were 197% and 224% higher, respectively, than those for venlafaxine. No adverse events were observed or reported in the nursing infants. Consistent with previous investigations of medications in breast milk, the venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine milk/plasma ratios were highly variable. The rate of venlafaxine/desvenlafaxine excretion into human breast milk is relatively higher than that observed for other antidepressants, largely due to higher desvenlafaxine excretion. These data expand the extant literature on venlafaxine and desvenlafaxine in lactation.
Article
No studies to date have assessed the pharmacological management of treatment-resistant postpartum depression. We reviewed the pharmacological treatment of postpartum depression in patients diagnosed with treatment-resistant 'unipolar' depression. We conducted a chart review of patients treated consecutively at a perinatal clinic. Treatment-resistant postpartum depression was defined as a failure to respond to at least one adequate antidepressant trial. Patients were diagnosed using the DSM-IV criteria, and the Clinical Global Impression-Improvement (CGI-I) rating scale was used to assess response to various pharmacological interventions. The majority of patients (57%, 34/60) referred for postpartum depression actually suffered from bipolar disorder. All patients were on antidepressants at the time of referral, but by the end of the study 37% (22/60) continued on antidepressants alone or in combination with other medications. CGI-I ratings showed appreciable improvement in depression at the end of six months following the initial consultation. Very much improvement was noted in 65% (39/60) of patients, and 22% (13/60) were considered much improved. The most common change in medication was a switch to or addition of an atypical neuroleptic. Retrospective design, small sample size, and lack of a control group. Management of treatment resistance in women with postpartum depression should be considered within the context of types of mood disorders. Atypical neuroleptics and mood stabilizers used alone or as adjuncts should be considered in the treatment of resistant postpartum depression in patients with a bipolar diathesis.
Article
Because the onset of mood and anxiety disorders often occurs during the childbearing years, many women may be taking psychotropic medications for these disorders when they conceive. These medications easily diffuse across the placenta, and their impact on the fetus is of concern. But discontinuation may lead to relapse, in which case psychiatric symptoms may affect the fetus. Thoughtful treatment planning presents a dilemma to the clinician. Limited data suggest heightened vulnerability to relapse of mood and anxiety disorders in women during the postpartum period. Pregnancy appears to exacerbate symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, while panic disorder patients may remain well after discontinuing medication. Future studies should address the prevalence and relapse rates of mood and anxiety disorders, particularly after medication discontinuation, among pregnant women.
Article
This study compared the efficacy of routine clinical evaluation with that of screening with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale for the detection of postpartum depression in a residency training program practice. Study Design: Three hundred ninety-one patients during a period of 1 year were assigned according to delivery date to screening for postpartum depression with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale or to a control group who had only spontaneous detection during routine clinical evaluation. The incidences of postpartum depression detection and demographic characteristics were compared between 79 patients in the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale group and 96 patients in the clinical evaluation group by means of chi(2) analyses. The incidence of postpartum depression detection with the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was significantly higher than the incidence of spontaneous detection during routine clinical evaluation (35.4% and 6.3%, respectively; P =.001). The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is an effective adjunct to clinical interview for diagnosis of postpartum depression and should be considered in residency training.
Article
The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of clinically significant depression occurring between 1 and 4 months postpartum and to investigate whether somatic complaints, subsyndromal depressive symptoms, or birth-related concerns among non-depressed women at 1 month were predictive of postpartum depression. This is a prospective cohort study of 465 women from the Wisconsin Maternity Leave and Health Project (WMLHP). Women who were not depressed at 1 month postpartum were reassessed 3 months later for depression occurring at any time in the interval between 1 and 4 months postpartum. Depression was defined as either meeting the criteria for major depression on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS) or scoring above 15 on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Physical symptoms were assessed by an adapted Health Responses Scale. Other measures were developed specifically for the WMLHP. Of 465 women, 27 (5.8%) became clinically depressed between 1 and 4 months postpartum. In a logistic regression analysis, four variables (maternal age, depression during pregnancy, thoughts of death and dying at 1 month postpartum, and difficulty falling asleep at 1 month postpartum) were predictive of depression at 4 months postpartum. Breast-feeding, mode of delivery, family income, parity and mother's education did not predict depression. The existence of subsyndromal depressive symptoms, particularly thoughts of death and dying, may represent a prodromal phase of depression and should alert clinicians to the possibility of future postpartum depression. Women with history of depression during pregnancy should be monitored for signs of postpartum depression for a minimum of 4 months. Obstetricians are in a unique position during the postpartum depression and possibly to avert the development of a clinically significant depressive episode.
Article
Little research has been carried out on the treatment of postnatal depression and clinicians must currently rely on general recommendations for the use of antidepressants. Antidepressant medication as the main treatment for depression in general practice has been shown to be effective when used as prescribed. However, research has shown that depressed patients consistently receive either no medication or consistently low doses of medication. This study will investigate women's experiences of taking antidepressant medication for postnatal depression. Thirty-five women with a clinical diagnosis of postnatal depression who had been prescribed antidepressant medication completed a questionnaire detailing their experiences of taking medication. Four open-ended questions and responses were discussed with the women. Of the 35 women who were prescribed medication, 4 chose not to take it because they were breast-feeding. Twenty of the women described finding medication helpful. Although only 4 women directly reported not taking antidepressants as prescribed, the comments made by a further 9 women suggest that compliance may have been poor. This study suggests a need to improve information about medication for postnatal depression. If this information is not provided, women are likely to continue to self-manage medication at a dosage that may be clinically ineffective.