The usage of medication for the treatment of psychiatric symptoms during pregnancy and the postpartum often provokes heated debate. There are those who argue fiercely for the life-saving relief offered through its prudent administration and those who feel uncertain that benefits outweigh risks.
The article acknowledges that research is uneven in its findings regarding side effects, efficacy and timing of administration and cessation. It is likely that some variation in results is attributable to the very specific and individualized chemistry, symptom presentation and course of each woman's illness.
For women experiencing mild symptoms, exercise, diet, nutrition and social support may turn the tide. For more moderate depression, family and social support, supplements and participation in cognitive or interpersonal therapy may bring relief. But for severe depressive, anxious, bipolar or psychotic symptoms, medication may be a life-saving, life-renewing addition to psychotherapy and other needed support.
There have been few non-biased, reliable, expert and centralized resources available to women and health care providers to guide these treatment decisions. A risk versus benefit analysis is the gold standard between client and health care provider when considering medication. But there is an additional resource which can greatly contribute to this important, careful discussion. That resource is OTIS, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Myla Moretti, OTIS President
Motherisk Program, The Hospital For Sick Children, Toronto, Canada.