Treatment of depression during adolescent pregnancy

Eva M. Szigethy, Pedro Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Despite abundant access to birth control measures, the United States has one of the highest rates of adolescent pregnancy in the Western world. For females, normal adolescence is a time of developmental transformation in physical, cognitive, and emotional realms related to establishing a more mature female identity. It is also a time of separation/individuation from parents and increased emphasis on peer relations. While pregnancy during this period can consolidate the resolution of the normal developmental crises of puberty, it can also revive primitive anxieties and conflicts leading to maladaptive behaviors as well as negative emotional states. When pregnant adolescents become depressed, psychiatric practitioners must exercise good clinical judgement, particularly with respect to treatment options and choices. In this article, the authors address a series of clinical issues related to the treatment of depression during adolescent pregnancy. The objectives of the article are to: 1) describe the developmental tasks of pregnancy, so that the normal emotional responses to pregnancy can be understood and integrated into treatment and can be differentiated from pathological mood states, 2) review the natural history of depression during pregnancy, 3) describe psychotherapeutic treatment options for depression in pregnant adolescents, and 4) describe the risk/benefit assessment with respect to the use of psychotropic drugs - that is, how clinicians can weigh the benefits of treating depressed pregnant women against potential teratogenic risks to the fetus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-264
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Practical Psychiatry and Behavioral Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1999


  • Adolescent depression
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Depression during pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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