Posted by: jedwardswright | October 6, 2011

Pregnancy and Antidepressants

You are ready to start a family. Excited about the prospect of getting pregnant, you look forward to welcoming a little one into your home.

Maybe your doctor mentions it. Perhaps you and your spouse wondered if it would be an issue. One way or another the subject comes up: should you go off your antidepressants? Would continuing to take them hurt the baby?

According to the staff at the Mayo Clinic, the answer lies in finding the right balance between what is right for you, and what is right for your unborn child.[i] Conclusions of research studies have varied.[ii]

What are the risks of discontinuing your medication during pregnancy (and nursing)?

If you slip into a major depression you may lose energy and motivation and so neglect your health, fail to get proper pre-natal care, be tempted to use tobacco or alcohol, or, in the worst case scenario, become suicidal.

Expectant mothers with untreated depression may be at greater risk of delivering babies prematurely, with low birth weight or even developmental problems.[iii]

You may be at risk of Post-Partum Depression as well, so the decision whether or not to nurse or take antidepressants while nursing could be an issue.

What are the risks of taking antidepressants during pregnancy?

Some antidepressants may be better choices for pregnant women. Certain antidepressants may have a small risk of causing birth defects or may raise blood pressure to dangerous levels. One study has suggested that mothers taking antidepressants are more likely to have children with autism, but this by no means established any direct link, only a statistical increase in probability.[iv]

Rather than my listing specific medications and risks, I urge you to check out this link to an article on the Mayo Clinic website which gives a full rundown of antidepressants and the possible safety issues that could cause concern.

How severe is your depression?

If you have mild depression, known as Dysthmia, you may be able to do without your antidepressant medication throughout your pregnancy (and nursing) with less risk than for someone with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

If you have had more than one depressive episode, you are always at greater risk of subsequent bouts of depression. Consider your condition during previous incidences. Were you suicidal? How did you cope with daily tasks? Did your health and well-being suffer while you were struggling with being depressed? Did you self-medicate with street drugs, alcohol or tobacco? Did you self-harm?

There is no substitute for discussing your concerns about pregnancy and antidepressants with your doctor or psychiatrist as well as your counselor if you have one. You do not need to make this decision on your own. Be informed so you can ask the right questions, but get a medical opinion to be safe.

I am not a medical professional or trained counselor. Please seek expert advice on this issue!

 

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Responses

  1. I had to take antidepressants at 4 months post partum with my first (and I should have taken them sooner) was on them for my entire pregnancy w/ my second, then abruptly stopped AFTER losing two pregnancies. So during my third pregnancy I was not medicated at all, which was only 15 months after my third. Talk about out of control hormones. I went into a tailspin after my third was born that was terrible. Awful. I missed SO much because of it. I’d much rather have been well medicated and informed than walking blindly because of unfounded fears.

    • Kim, thank you for sharing your experience!
      Jodi


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