Psychiatry

The PMHP service includes psychiatric services, on-site and free of charge.

Despite many more women attending the PMHP counselling service, the number of women receiving psychiatric care has decreased over the years. This is due to improved screening processes and the introduction of a stepped-care model.

Counsellors, at their clinical discretion and with the use of a clinical guide, refer clients to the PMHP psychiatrist or the community mental health team psychiatrist, in more severe cases. Where required, the psychiatrist will prescribe medication, which is available to clients at their antenatal facility. 

What about medication during pregnancy?

While no medication is 100% safe during pregnancy, the PMHP endorses the evidence that shows that the risks to the baby of untreated depression and anxiety are greater than the risks of commonly prescribed medications. Several studies have shown that antidepressants effectively treat both depression and anxiety symptoms.

Drugs considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding are the family of antidepressants called the SSRIs (or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). The commonly used tricyclic antidepressant, Amitrypteline, is also considered safe.

For more information read our Issue Brief here

Resources

  • Antidepressant use during pregnancy: the benefit-risk ratio (2012) G Koren, H Nordeng, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology207(3), 157–163.
  • Child development following exposure to tricyclic antidepressants or fluoxetine throughout fetal life: a prospective, controlled study (2002) Nulman, I et al, American Journal of Psychiatry. 159(11): 1889.
  • Online resources