Is It Safe To Take Antidepressants During Pregnancy?

4 min read

Written by Pradeep


Getting pregnant when undergoing some treatment related medication can make you anxious and confused about continuing the medication. You may have heard that some medicines are totally unsafe during pregnancy. But stopping the medicines that you are having for a cause is also not a good idea. No wonder you are confused.
Pregnant woman antidepressants
Here we discuss some pros and cons of taking antidepressants during pregnancy. You will understand the significance of this topic when you are able to understand a simple statistic- 1 out 3 women have taken antidepressants at some point in their life. 70% of the long time anti-depressants users(using for more than two years) are females.

What Are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are psychiatric medications given to treat clinical depression. This medicine is also to treat long-term pain like CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome). It is also used in treating mental health conditions such as serious phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder etc.

Should I Stop Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy?

Most of the ladies are using this medicines for depression rather than for other health conditions. Choosing to proceed or quit using antidepressants amid pregnancy is one of the hardest choices a woman must make. Untreated depressions can not only adversely affect both the mother and the child but it can also have unfavorable effects on the welfare of her family especially her other kids. Still, taking antidepressants while pregnant can be unsafe for the infant inside the womb.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Depression?

Yes. Pregnancy and depression can affect each other. One important fact is that the depression among women is very common during their reproductive years (the years they bear eggs and can have a child). 10%-20% of the pregnant women are found to develop depression.
Pregnancy can trigger a variety of mood swings even to a person without a history of depression. So, just think about the effect of pregnancy hormones on a person already undergoing depression. Definitely,the pregnancy can make it more difficult to manage the depression as the pregnancy stress can contribute to the returning or worsening of the depression symptoms.
The relapse rates of depression associated with discontinuing medication are high and pose a rapid outset.

Is Continuing Or Starting Treatment For Depression Needful During Pregnancy?

Yes. Treatment for depression is very much crucial during pregnancy. If not, the expecting woman with depression:

  • Will not look for ideal pre-birth care
  • May be incapable of taking care herself
  • Will be less able to follow the medical recommendations of the doctor
  • Won’t bother to maintain a healthy diet for the developing baby
  • Can get into smoking and drinking habits
  • Can interfere with the ability to bond with the developing baby

Moreover, untreated depression during the pregnancy highly elevates the risk of having postpartum depression.

Can I Take Antidepressants During Pregnancy?

A choice to use antidepressants amid pregnancy depends on the balance between the pros and cons. In general, the risk of birth defects and other different issues affecting the infants whose mom take antidepressants amid pregnancy is low. But keep in mind that all the antidepressant medicines are not safe to take during the pregnancy and have definitely some harmful effect on the unborn child.
Pregnant woman medicines

When Should I Stop Anti-depressants During Pregnancy?

You can stop the medicines for anti-depressants if your level of depression was mild and also you were symptom-free for the past six months. But you should be under the supervision of your doctor during this period as the possibility of rapid onset of the symptoms can’t be ignored.

What Are SSRIs? Is It Safe During Pregnancy?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are most commonly used anti-depressants.They are able to ease the symptoms of moderate to severe depression.
They can pass through the placenta. Hence,birth defects and other issues are possible. But the risk is relatively low.
Possible risks of using SSRIs during pregnancy include:

  • Congenial heart disease in newborns
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension(PPHN) causing breathing and circulatory problem among newborns
  • Increased chances for miscarriage
  • Increased chances of preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Increased birth defects

However, if the risk generates by the mental health condition is more significant than the potential risk of treatment, SSRIs are recommended by the doctor. The doctor usually prescribes fluoxetine, sertraline or citalopram (Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa respectively) as they are relatively safe during pregnancy.

How Can I Balance Between Pregnancy And Taking Anti-depressants?

There are some factors that you need to understand about taking anti-depressants during pregnancy.

  • If you get pregnant while taking antidepressant medicines, don’t stop taking it until you get your doctors permission
  • In about 90% of pregnant women who end their medicines are often seen their depression rebound, especially during the last trimester of pregnancy
  • If a specific medicine has worked for you, and if the side effect of that medicines is not relatively high, most of the expert will support to continue that medicines
  • Come in for regular examination and needed tests to ensure the health of the baby can help to reduce the risk to certain extend
  • Healthy life style can help in managing the depression. Yoga and meditations will help to minimize the stress

But if you have a serious psychological problems like bipolar disorder or previous history of recurring attack of depression then it is better for you to stick on the medications.
Some facts that can pacify you:

  • Every single pregnant woman have normally 3% risk of giving birth to a child with some type of defects
  • The studies show that the so-called increased risk of birth defects when antidepressants are used is relatively very slight (around 1 %)

Even if the anti-depressant used by you are not listed under the ‘safe group’, even the controversial medicines are found to have a relatively low risk as explained above. Above all changing the medicines suddenly during pregnancy can give rise to more issues.
Thus,untreated depression poses more risk to the mother and the child. However, the after effects should be considered before even thinking to stop the depression treatment or before hanging back to begin the treatment of depression during pregnancy. Trust yourself and your doctor’s decision and stop bothering about the consequences. After all, your baby needs a healthy mother to look after him.


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