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Original Research

Medications for Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder During Pregnancy

Sofya M. Rubinchik Anita S. Kablinger J. Suzette Gardner

Published: June 15, 2005

Article Abstract

Objective: Approximately 30% of women experience some type of anxiety disorder during their lifetime. In addition, some evidence exists that anxiety disorders can affect pregnancy outcomes. This article reviews the literature on the course of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder during pregnancy and the postpartum period and presents guidelines for management.

Data Sources and Study Selection: An English language electronic search of relevant studies using PubMed (January 1, 1985-January 2004) was performed using the search terms anxiety and pregnancy, maternal mental illness, panic and pregnancy, psychotropic medications in pregnancy, and treatment options in pregnancy. Review articles and primary pharmacologic treatment articles were selected for discussion.

Data Extraction and Synthesis: Despite the extensive use of psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants during pregnancy, there is a scarcity of information regarding the effect of such exposure on the developing fetus. Review articles and primary pharmacologic treatment trials were analyzed and incorporated into the review based on adequate methodology, completeness of data, and information on pregnancy outcome.

Conclusion: It is important that physicians understand the course of these disorders during pregnancy and available treatments so they appropriately counsel women who are or intend to become pregnant. The goal of treatment during pregnancy and lactation is sufficient treatment for syndrome remission. To minimize the potential for neonatal withdrawal and maternal toxicity after delivery, vigilant monitoring of side effects is indicated. Also, if possible, nonpharmacologic treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, should be first-line treatment in pregnant women with GAD or panic disorder.

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