Monthly Archives: July 2006

New Book: A Deeper Shade of Blue: A Women’s Guide to Recognizing and Treating Depression in Her Childbearing Years, by Ruta Nonacs, MD. (Simon and Schuster, 2006)

Depression affects women almost twice as often as men, with about one in four women suffering from it in her lifetime. While depression may strike at any time, studies show that women are particularly vulnerable during their childbearing years.

Use of SSRIs During Pregnancy

Q. I have been taking antidepressants on and off for the last ten years, and I am now planning a pregnancy. I am now on Effexor, and my psychiatrist recommended switching to Prozac and staying on it up until the end of the second trimester. He said that antidepressants should be avoided later on in pregnancy because they may cause problems for the baby at the time of delivery. I am concerned about having to come off my medication for such a long time. In the past, every time I have tried to stop the medication, my depression has come back within a month or so.

Duloxetine for the Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms and Mood in Postmenopausal Women

Depression is common in postmenopausal women suffering from menopausal vasomotor symptoms (hot flushes, night sweats) and insomnia. While estrogen replacement therapy may alleviate these symptoms and may also have a positive impact on mood, the use of estrogen has declined over recent years. There has been great interest in finding alternative strategies for the management of menopausal symptoms, and recent data suggest that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) and the serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), venlafaxine, may be effective for the treatment of depression and vasomotor symptoms in peri- and postmenopausal women. In a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Hadine Joffe and her colleagues at the Center of Women’s Mental Health presented data on the use of duloxetine (Cymbalta), a new SNRI, for the treatment of mood, vasomotor symptoms, and insomnia in postmenopausal women.

Neurobehavioral Outcomes in Children Exposed to Lithium in Utero

Driven by concerns regarding fetal exposure to psychotropic medications, many women with psychiatric illness attempt to discontinue their pharmacologic treatment during pregnancy; however, recent studies indicate that this approach may not be appropriate for all women. Dr. Adele Viguera and her colleagues at the Center for Women’s Mental Health have reported that among pregnant women with bipolar disorder, relapse rates were very high (58%) in women who discontinued maintenance treatment with lithium during pregnancy (Viguera et al 2000). Given this risk of recurrent illness, many women may consider continuing lithium treatment during pregnancy. While the teratogenic effects of first trimester exposure to lithium have been well studied, data on the long-term outcome of children exposed to lithium during pregnancy are sparse. At the 61st Annual Meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry in Toronto, Dr. Viguera presented preliminary data on the neurobehavioral outcomes of children exposed to lithium in utero.

Evaluating the Safety of First-Trimester Exposure to Lamotrigine (Lamictal)

Early reports suggested that women with bipolar disorder may be at lower risk for onset or relapse of this disorder during pregnancy and that some women may be able to remain well during pregnancy despite medication discontinuation. However, more recent studies have suggested that recurrence of affective illness during pregnancy is relatively common among women with bipolar disorder. Dr. Adele Viguera and her colleagues at the Center for Women's Mental Health reported that among pregnant bipolar women, relapse rates were very high (58%) in those women who discontinued maintenance treatment with lithium during pregnancy (Viguera et al 2000).