Antidepressant use During Pregnancy: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Decision-Making of Patients and Providers

Rachel Eakley, Audrey Lyndon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Despite the risks associated with untreated perinatal depression and anxiety, both patients and clinicians are less likely to follow evidence-based guidelines including the use of antidepressants during pregnancy. The aim of this integrative review was to describe the perspectives of both patients and prescribing health care providers regarding the use of antidepressants during pregnancy. Methods: We performed a literature search in PubMed, CINAHL, ProQuest Central, and PsychINFO. Inclusion criteria were English language, original peer-reviewed research published within the previous 10 years that described perspectives regarding the use of antidepressants of pregnant patients or prescribing providers during pregnancy. Studies were excluded if their focus was on screening practices, treatment guidelines, or evaluation of decision support tool; medication or treatment broadly; bipolar disorder or serious mental illness; or they did not provide patient or provider perspective. This review was limited to professionals with scopes of practice that include prescriptive authority (eg, physicians, advanced practices nurses, midwives). Included articles were critically appraised and read in an iterative process to extract methodological details and synthesize findings. Results: Nineteen studies met criteria for inclusion and varied by design, sample, and quality. Together, the reviewed articles suggest that patients and prescribing providers hold a range of beliefs regarding the safety of antidepressant during pregnancy. Patients and providers appear to value different sources of information and varied in awareness of the negative impacts of untreated depression and anxiety during pregnancy. Many patients report dissatisfaction with available information and distress throughout the decision-making experience. Notably, patients and providers had incongruent perceptions of the others’ experience. Discussion: Inconsistencies between knowledge, attitudes, and decision-making highlight the need for improved dissemination of evidence-based treatments and support increased training for psychopharmacology during pregnancy. Efforts to reduce patient distress regarding their decisions, such as adequate time and information, are indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-353
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022


  • antidepressants
  • anxiety
  • attitudes
  • depression
  • integrative review
  • knowledge
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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