Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS)


Physician Assistant Studies


pregnancy; prenatal depression; treatment; anxiety; antidepressants; postpartum


While diagnoses of depression and anxiety are not uncommon for women during pregnancy and after delivery, one of the greatest challenges in the plan of treatment is to ensure that the offspring are kept safe while the psychological well-being of the mother is appropriately cared for. The objective of this literature review is to evaluate the commonly prescribed treatment methods for prenatal and postnatal depression, focusing on the efficacy of antidepressant medications and nonpharmacologic treatments while evaluating the effects these medications have on the fetus/breastfeeding infant. The method of research included 15 studies completed within the past ten years on women who were pregnant or who had delivered a baby within the past 12 months. One study did evaluate long-term effects on offspring, which included a participant number of 3,342 children who were exposed to antidepressants during pregnancy. Two Cochrane Review evaluations were also included in this research. The total number of participants in the studies were 8,069 women. Limitations of the results were due to small sample sizes in several of the studies and few studies available that directly evaluate this population of women and children. The compiled data results suggest that while cognitive group therapy does provide depression symptom improvement in prenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety, antidepressant medications tend to have a positive effect earlier in treatment. Unfortunately, many of these antidepressant medications have also been proven to have both short and long tern effects on the offspring exposed to pharmacologic treatment.