Pregnant and medication

ECT should be considered for severely depressed pregnant women, new guidelines state

Electro-convulsive therapy should be considered for pregnant women with severe depression, new government guidelines state.

This is despite the use of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) being “not well researched”, state the clinical guidelines for health professionals issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The guidelines are for professionals in England and Wales working with mothers with a range of mental health problems both during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth.

The guidelines state that if psychiatrists are to consider prescribing ECT to severely mentally ill pregnant women, its health risks to the expectant mother and fetus should be balanced against the risks of using alternative treatments, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants.

“A course of ECT should be considered for pregnant women with severe depression, severe mixed affective states or mania in the context of bipolar disorder, or catatonia, whose physical health or that of the fetus is at serious risk,” the guidelines read.

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