Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 357–360 | Cite as

A closer look at the preventative effect of antidepressants in postpartum depression

  • Verinder Sharma
Short Communication


Antidepressants are commonly recommended for prevention of postpartum depression; however, there is a lack of clarity about their role in the reduction of postpartum recurrences. Surprisingly, there are only two randomized controlled trials, one open trial, and one prospective cohort study on the subject. Evidence in support of the use of antidepressants is limited to a study of only 22 women. Due to the paucity of extant literature, no firm conclusions can be drawn about the prophylactic efficacy of antidepressants.


Postpartum Postnatal Prevention Depression Antidepressants 



The author would like to thank Mona Elamoury, MD, for her assistance with the preparation of this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Verinder Sharma has received grant support from, participated on scientific advisory boards for, or served on the speakers’ bureaus of Assurex, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, Elan Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly, Genome Canada, Janssen, Lundbeck, Neurocrine Biosciences Inc., Pfizer, Servier, The Stanley Medical Research Institute, and Sunovian Pharmaceuticals.


  1. Altemus M, Neeb CC, Davis A, Occhiogrosso M, Nguyen T, Bleiberg KL (2012) Phenotypic differences between pregnancy-onset and postpartum-onset major depressive disorder. J Clin Psychiatry 73(12):e1485–e1491. doi: 10.4088/JCP.12m07693 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Cooper PJ, Murray L (1995) Course and recurrence of postnatal depression. Evidence for the specificity of the diagnostic concept. Br J Psychiatry 166(2):191–195CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Di Florio A, Jones L, Forty L, Gordon-Smith K, Blackmore ER, Heron J, Jones I (2014) Mood disorders and parity—a clue to the aetiology of the postpartum trigger. J Affect Disord 152-154:334–339CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Gaynes, B. N., Gavin, N., Meltzer-Brody, S., Lohr, K. N., Swinson, T., Gartlehner, G.,. .. Miller, W. C. (2005). Perinatal depression: prevalence, screening accuracy, and screening outcomes. Evid Rep Technol Assess (Summ)(119), 1–8Google Scholar
  5. Goyal D, Gay CL, Lee KA (2007) Patterns of sleep disruption and depressive symptoms in new mothers. J Perinat Neonatal Nurs 21(2):123–129. doi: 10.1097/01.jpn.0000270629.58746.96 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Hiscock H, Wake M (2001) Infant sleep problems and postnatal depression: a community-based study. Pediatrics 107(6):1317–1322CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Jimenez-Solem E, Andersen JT, Petersen M, Broedbaek K, Andersen NL, Torp-Pedersen C, Poulsen HE (2013) Prevalence of antidepressant use during pregnancy in Denmark, a nation-wide cohort study. PLoS One 8(4):e63034. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063034 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Khazaie H, Ghadami MR, Knight DC, Emamian F, Tahmasian M (2013) Insomnia treatment in the third trimester of pregnancy reduces postpartum depression symptoms: a randomized clinical trial. Psychiatry Res 210(3):901–905. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.08.017 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Krawczak EM, Minuzzi L, Hidalgo MP, Frey BN (2016) Do changes in subjective sleep and biological rhythms predict worsening in postpartum depressive symptoms? A prospective study across the perinatal period. Arch Womens Ment Health 19(4):591–598. doi: 10.1007/s00737-016-0612-x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Sharma V (2006) A cautionary note on the use of antidepressants in postpartum depression. Bipolar Disord 8(4):411–414. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2006.00336.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Sharma V, Khan M, Sommerdyk C (2015) Quetiapine in the acute treatment of bipolar postpartum depression: a chart review. J Clin Psychopharmacol 35(6):733–735. doi: 10.1097/jcp.0000000000000415 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Wisner KL, Perel JM, Peindl KS, Hanusa BH, Findling RL, Rapport D (2001) Prevention of recurrent postpartum depression: a randomized clinical trial. J Clin Psychiatry 62(2):82–86CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Wisner KL, Perel JM, Peindl KS, Hanusa BH, Piontek CM, Findling RL (2004) Prevention of postpartum depression: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Am J Psychiatry 161(7):1290–1292. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.161.7.1290 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Wisner KL, Sit DK, McShea MC, Rizzo DM, Zoretich RA, Hughes CL et al (2013) Onset timing, thoughts of self-harm, and diagnoses in postpartum women with screen-positive depression findings. JAMA Psychiatry 70(5):490–498. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.87 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Wisner KL, Wheeler SB (1994) Prevention of recurrent postpartum major depression. Hosp Community Psychiatry 45(12):1191–1196PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Yonkers KA, Gotman N, Smith MV, Forray A, Belanger K, Brunetto WL, Lockwood CJ (2011) Does antidepressant use attenuate the risk of a major depressive episode in pregnancy? Epidemiology 22(6):848–854. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3182306847 PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Perinatal Clinic St. Joseph’s Health Care, Parkwood Institute, Mental Health CareWestern UniversityLondonCanada

Personalised recommendations