Peer Reviewed
Feature Article Obstetrics and gynaecology
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Mood disorders in pregnancy: how do they affect mother and baby?

Anne Buist
Many postpartum mood disorders can start during pregnancy and women with pre-existing psychiatric conditions can relapse during pregnancy. The risk–benefit ratio of treatment should be assessed to protect the mother and fetus.
Key Points
  • Mood disorders often begin in pregnancy, particularly during the third trimester.
  • Women with mood disorders often present with anxiety symptoms focused on the pregnancy and unborn child.
  • Women may mask their symptoms, afraid of the stigma of being seen as a bad mother.
  • Stopping psychiatric medication, particularly abruptly, may not be in the best interest of the mother or fetus.
  • The risk–benefit ratio of treatment must be considered for the mother and her unborn child, ensuring both parents are well-informed in order to make the best decision.
  • Women with bipolar disorder or psychotic depression need referral to a psychiatrist.

    Picture credit: © Jfairone/iStockphoto.

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