Antidepressants are drugs used to treat depression. However, whether to take the treatment during pregnancy or not is a difficult decision. While antidepressants come with side effects, untreated depression can harm both you and your baby.
Pregnancy and depression: what is the link?
In the past, many people think that the hormones released during pregnancy can protect you against depression. That is actually not true. In addition, many problems and symptoms of pregnancy can trigger emotional and mental issues, making it hard for you to deal with depression.
If you have mild depression and you have not noticed symptoms for at least 6 months, you may be able to stop taking antidepressants before or during pregnancy. But you should keep in touch with your doctor to make sure your depression cannot harm you and your baby. You may be able to cope with depression without medications. Here are some simple tips:
−Do exercises such as walking, swimming, or yoga.
−Do not stay home all day. You should go outside. Walking around the neighborhood is a good idea.
However, if your depression is severe and if you have a history of severe depression or mental illness, suicidal tendency, you may be recommended to keep using antidepressants.
Risks of using antidepressants during pregnancy
When you take any medication during pregnancy, there are always some risks. The same applies to antidepressants. However, the risk is rare and low. Possible side effects of antidepressants include:
−Birth defects: problems with the heart, spinal cord, brain, skull, abdominal organs, and limb malformation.
−Pulmonary arterial hypertension – a serious condition in which the baby has high blood pressure in the arteries that go from lungs and heart. This problem can get worse over time as the baby grows up.
−Preterm delivery. The baby may be born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
−Low birth weight. The newborn may weigh less than 2,500 grams.
−The newborn may have a number of health problems, including breathing problems, feeding problems, irritability, and low blood sugar level. After delivery, the newborn may have to stay in the neonatal intensive care unit for a few days. Fortunately, these side effects may not cause long-term problems.
Complications of untreated depression during pregnancy
Although antidepressants may cause some side effects, uncontrolled depression has consequences. You are more likely to become suicidal. You may not take proper care of yourself. You may not eat healthy foods. You may skip meals. In addition, you may drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or use drugs. These actions can harm both you and your baby. Miscarriage, birth defects, preterm birth, or low birth weight are reported in women who stopped taking antidepressants during pregnancy.
Untreated depression can also affect your family and your relationships. You may not want to take care of your older children and your husband anymore. You may feel tired all day and you do not have enough energy to take part in daily activities with your family. Plus, the bond between you and your baby will be affected, too.
Medications that are considered safe during pregnancy
The antidepressants mentioned below are generally considered safe for pregnant women. However, always consult with your doctor regarding your medications.
−Certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): citalopram, fluoxetine, and sertraline.
−Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): duloxetine and venlafaxine.
−Bupropion: This antidepressant is usually prescribed if you have not responded to other medications.
−Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline and nortriptyline.
You might also want to read:
- Antidepressants in Pregnancy Tied to Autism
- What Do You Know About How Antidepressants Work?
- Do Men Get Postpartum Depression?
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: April 20, 2017 | Last Modified: April 20, 2017
Pregnancy and Antidepressants. http://www.webmd.com/baby/pregnancy-and-antidepressants#1. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Antidepressants: Safe during pregnancy?. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20046420. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Medication for depression during pregnancy. https://www.babycenter.com/0_medication-for-depression-during-pregnancy_10415699.bc. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. http://www.webmd.com/lung/pulmonary-arterial-hypertension#1. Accessed March 28, 2017.