Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 343–351

Biologically based treatment approaches to the patient with resistant perinatal depression

Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00737-013-0366-7

Cite this article as:
Robakis, T.K. & Williams, K.E. Arch Womens Ment Health (2013) 16: 343. doi:10.1007/s00737-013-0366-7


This study aims to summarize the current state of knowledge regarding approaches to treatment-resistant depression in pregnancy and the postpartum period and to develop algorithms for ante- and postnatal management in cases of refractory major depression. PubMed, Scopus, Google Scholar, and the Cochrane Library databases were searched without temporal restriction. Search terms included pregnancy and depression, perinatal depression, postnatal depression, treatment resistance and depression, antipsychotics and pregnancy, antidepressants and pregnancy, and mood stabilizers and pregnancy. Abstracts were reviewed for relevance, and further articles were obtained from bibliographic citations. There is a significant subpopulation of patients in pregnancy and postpartum whose depressive symptoms do not respond to first-line treatments. No research studies have focused specifically on this population. Data extracted from studies on women with depressive symptoms in pregnancy suggest that in the absence of evidence on which to base clinical decisions, many are receiving combinations of psychotherapeutic medications that have not been specifically studied for use in pregnancy. Antidepressant use in pregnancy is well studied, but studies specifically addressing the case of the patient who does not respond to first-line treatments are absent. Research in this area is urgently needed. The authors review a number of possible therapeutic approaches to treatment-resistant depression in pregnancy and the postpartum period.


Treatment-resistant depressionPregnancyAntenatal depressionPostpartum depressionAntidepressants

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryStanford University Medical CenterStanfordUSA