Some women express concerns about taking antidepressant medication while breastfeeding. The woman and her health care provider should go through a careful risk-benefit analysis in deciding which treatment options are best for her and her baby. Currently, there is insufficient long-term data documenting the outcomes of infants exposed to antidepressants during pregnancy and through breastfeeding. Overall, the potential effects of medication on the infant should be weighed against the impact that depression may have on the mother’s capacity for parenting. Psychotherapy can address the issues underlying and contributing to the depression, and teach women coping skills, often producing longer-term benefits. In studies, psychotherapy has been shown to be as effective as medication in the treatment of depression.
Burt, V., et al. (2001). The use of psychotropic medications during breast-feeding. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158, 1001-1009.
Elkin, I., et al. (1995). Initial severity and treatment outcomes in the National Institute of Mental Health treatment of depression collaborative research program. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 63, 841-847.
O’Hara, M., Stuart, S., Gorman, L., & Wenzel, A. (2000). Efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 1039-1045.
Wisner, K.L., et al. (2000). Risk-benefit decision making for treatment of depression during pregnancy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(12), 1933-1940.