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Adrienne Einarson


Pregnancy, antidepressants, mental health, health care providers, stigma


There continues to be a stigma surrounding mental illness, which includes women with psychiatric illnesses who become pregnant. In addition, both women and their health care providers often have an increased risk perception surrounding the safety of psychotropic drug use in pregnancy, resulting in physicians hesitant to prescribe and women afraid to take. Consequently, this creates many challenges and barriers when it comes to treating women pharmacologically during pregnancy and lactation.

The treatment of mental illness in the perinatal period is an important clinical decision, as it involves not one but two patients, the mother and her child. With careful evidence-based considerations of the risks and benefits of treatments, as well as other possible co-morbidities, most often it will result in positive outcomes for both patients. The health care provider should discuss these risks and benefits with each individual, while being cognizant of the many outside influences which may affect decision-making by both the clinician and the patient to treat the psychiatric illness during pregnancy.

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