Although a large literature supports the benefits of breastfeeding, this review suggests that breastfeeding is less common among postpartum depressed women, even though their infants benefit from the breastfeeding. Depressed mothers, in part, do not breastfeed because of their concern about potentially negative effects of antidepressants on their infants. Although sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxol) concentrations are not detectable in infants' sera, fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa) do have detectable levels. Unfortunately these findings are not definitive because they are based on very small sample, uncontrolled studies. As in the literature on prenatal antidepressant effects, the question still remains whether the antidepressants or the untreated depression itself has more negative effects on the infant. It is possible that the positive effects of breastfeeding may outweigh the positive effects of the antidepressants for both the mother and the infant. In addition, some alternative therapies may substitute or attenuate the effects of antidepressants, such as vagal stimulation or massage therapy, both therapies being noted to reduce depression. Further studies of this kind are needed to determine the optimal course of therapy for the benefit of the depressed, breastfeeding mother and the breastfed infant.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology