Barcelona snapshots

Prof. Veerle Bergink

Veerle Bergink psychiatrist Controversies Psiquiatry Barcelona
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA
Talk Prevention of mental disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period
Date Friday, September 17th, 2021
Time 18:15 - 19:00
Round Table 4. Psychotic disorders


Dr Veerle Bergink is Professor at the department of Psychiatry and the department of Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is internationally recognized as an expert in the treatment of psychiatric disorders during pregnancy and the postpartum period with a specific interest in bipolar disorder. She established a prospective postpartum psychosis study, currently the largest first-onset postpartum psychosis and mania cohort in the world. She has defined a highly effective clinical treatment algorithm for treatment of the acute phase and also for the prevention of postpartum relapse. Moreover, her research has provided intriguing evidence for an underlying immunological pathophysiology of postpartum depression, mania and psychosis. She is actively involved in epidemiological studies at the institute of registered based research in Denmark, examining intergenerational psychopathology and medication use during pregnancy. She has been the principle investigator on multiple research project including studies on lithium and antidepressant use during pregnancy, neuroimaging of new mothers and their offspring and the longitudinal course of severe perinatal mood disorders. Her work has been funded by various sources such as NIMH, the European Union, the Dutch Government and private foundations, she won prestigious prices and she has published extensively in top-tier journals.


Both pregnancy and the postpartum period are challenging times for women with a psychiatric history. Pregnancy might be planned or unplanned, but in each scenario it’s a major life event and potentially stressful, especially for women with severe mental illness. During pregnancy, women and their clinicians might want to minimize or stop medication to avoid fetal medication exposure, but in some scenario’s, medication continuation is needed to function or to prevent severe relapse of mental illness. The postpartum period is a very high-risk period for relapse, especially for women with bipolar disorder. In addition, it is a high-risk period for new onset of severe psychiatric episodes.

In this lecture both the prevalence, incidence and recurrence risks of mood episodes, anxiety and psychotic episodes during pregnancy and postpartum will be discussed. This lecture will provide guidance how to weight the short and long-term effects of psychotropic medication on the child, against the benefits for the mother. Both the biological and psychosocial changes of the postpartum period will be discussed and how to prevent recurrence and new onset of mental illness during this period.


Gilden J, et al. (2020). Mother-to-Infant Bonding in Women with Postpartum Psychosis and Severe Postpartum Depression: A Clinical Cohort Study. J Clin Med. 2020 Jul 19;9(7):2291. doi: 10.3390/jcm9072291. PMID: 32707679; PMCID: PMC7408880.

Gilden J, et al. (2020). Long-Term Outcomes of Postpartum Psychosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Psychiatry. 2020 Mar 10;81(2):19r12906. doi: 10.4088/JCP.19r12906. PMID: 32160423.

Bergink V, Rasgon N, Wisner KL. (2016) Postpartum Psychosis: Madness, Mania, and Melancholia in Motherhood. Am J Psychiatry. 2016 Dec 1;173(12):1179-1188. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16040454. Epub 2016 Sep 9. PMID: 27609245.