Neuroendocrine and behavioral consequences of untreated and treated depression in pregnancy and lactation.

: Depression during pregnancy and in the post partum period is a significant health issue in modern society. The estimated prevalence of depression in pregnancy ranges from 13-20%. The major dilemma for gynecologists is to treat or not to treat depression during gestation and lactation. Consequences of untreated depression can be so serious that the benefit of antidepressant therapy may overweigh the possible risk for injury of fetal/neonatal development. Currently, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly used for treatment of maternal depression. The review article brings up-to-date knowledge on effects of maternal adversity (depression) and/or antidepressants on the development of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis of the offspring in relation to postnatal behavior and reactivity to stressful stimuli. Treated as well as untreated maternal depression presents a risk for the developing fetus and neonate. The authors stress the need to evaluate the relative safety of SNRIs/SNRIs by means of relevant experimental models to assess if these drugs can be assigned to treat pregnant and lactating depressive women.

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