Psychopharmacology and Perinatal Mental Health for Physicians: What to Know, How to Help

This 2-hour course will review foundational information on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) and the current landscape and recommendations for psychopharmacology in the perinatal period for prescribers. Instructor Dr. Sarah Oreck, MD (she/her), a 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, you will hear the personal story of Amber Sheikh-Ginsberg (she/her) who experienced a perinatal mental health condition and experienced many barriers to treatment to assist in integrating the material learned.

This course is beneficial to anyone providing healthcare during the perinatal period (including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and more) who seek 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.


After completion of this course learners will be able to:

1. Define reproductive psychiatry and identify the parameters of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
2. Identify 3 risks of untreated psychiatric disorders in the peripartum period
3. Identify 3 non-pharmacologic approaches to consider prior to pursuing medication-assisted interventions
4. Critique empirical research studies to assess for implications for pregnant and postpartum bodies including possible limitations and confounders
5. Explain elements of safety and efficacy of psychotropic medications in pregnancy and during breast/chestfeeding

Continuing Education (CE):

Maternal Mental Health NOW is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Maternal Mental Health NOW maintains responsibility for this program and its content. This course meets criteria for 2 continuing education credits for LMFTs, LPCCs, LCSWs, LEPs, and psychologists through the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) in the state of CA. If you hold a license not listed here or are licensed outside of the state of California, please check with your licensing board directly to confirm that these CE credits will be accepted. We are unable to assist in verifying if CE credits will be approved for your license type/state outside of California.

Continuing Medical Education (CME):

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint providership of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Maternal Mental Health NOW. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The California State Board of Registered Nursing accepts courses approved by the ACCME for Category 1 credit as meeting the educational requirements for license renewal.
  • Module 1: Introduction to PMADs, including risk factors and goals of treatment
  • Module 2: Psychological vs Biological Treatments
  • Module 3: Confounders in Perinatal Psychiatric Research
  • Module 4: Antidepressant Medication Classes
  • Module 5: Anxiety and Sleep Medication
  • Module 6: Bipolar Disorder and Mood Stabilizers
  • Module 7: Antipsychotic Medication
  • Module 8: Stimulants in Pregnancy
  • Module 9: Breastfeeding & Psychiatric Medications
  • Mod. 10: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)/Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
  • Module 11: Case Study #1
  • Module 12: Case Study #2
  • Module 13: Case Study #3
  • Module 14: Helpful Tips & Resources
  • Module 15: Amber's Story
  • Learning Assessment Test
Completion rules
  • All units must be completed