Psychopharmacology and Perinatal Mental Health for Physicians

Maternal Mental Health NOW | Course Psychopharmacology and Perinatal Mental Health for Physicians

This two-hour course for providers will review foundational information on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) and review the current landscape and recommendations for psychopharmacology in the perinatal period. Sarah Oreck, MD, (she/her) Columbia-trained reproductive psychiatrist, will share her experiences supporting the mental health of pregnant, postpartum, and lactating birthing people including case studies. She will define the goals of reproductive psychiatry and address common misconceptions about medication in pregnancy. She will also cover the risks of untreated mental illness for birthing and postpartum people as well as provide a brief discussion of non-pharmacologic approaches. Dr. Oreck will review the safety and efficacy of psychotropic medications in pregnancy and breastfeeding and discuss confounding factors found in research studies on psychotropic medications. Finally, to assist in integrating the material learned, you will hear the personal story of Amber Sheikh-Ginsberg who experienced a perinatal mental health condition and confronted many barriers to treatment.


This course is beneficial to anyone providing healthcare during the perinatal period (physicians, midwives, nurses, mental health professionals, lactation consultants and others) who desire to increase their knowledge of the risks and benefits of pursuing medication-assisted treatment for pregnant, postpartum, and lactating individuals in order to support them in making an educated, informed decision in their pursuit of wellness and mental health.


Following completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Define reproductive psychiatry and identify the parameters of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders;

  • Identify 3 risks of untreated psychiatric disorders in the peripartum period;

  • Identify 3 non-pharmacologic approaches to consider prior to pursuing medication-assisted interventions;

  • Critique empirical research studies to assess for implications for pregnant and postpartum bodies including possible limitations and confounders;

  • Explain elements of safety and efficacy of psychotropic medications in pregnancy and during breast/chestfeeding.




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