Are Pregnant Women and Anti-Depressants a Good Combination?

article-1079556-00013d6c00000258-777_233x344The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have compiled a new report alongside the American Psychiatric Association regarding such topic matter.

While the use of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics remain highly taboo, especially in certain circles (you know the moms: the all-natural, highly-organic type that couldn’t even fathom drinking decaf coffee while pregnant), yet the newest study promotes the continuity of anti-depressants, although in lower and gradually infrequent doses.  This, of course, does not apply to women who have severe psychological disturbance; they are primarily speaking to those women who suffer from “mild or no symptoms” of depression.

Another form of mental rehabilitation embraces psychotherapy while pregnant to defer the reliance on the woman’s antidepressant.

Although the panel has done extensive research on the effects of antidepressants, the boards still feel that further information is needed on the possible adverse effects of continuing traditional antidepressant regimens during pregnancy.

According to another source, the negative effects of utilizing antidepressants during pregnancy far outweigh the positive aspects.  The Examiner states that new-found research has proven a higher rate for miscarriage, further risk for pre-term delivery and low birth weight.  It also has the likelihood of upping the ante for congenital birth defects in the child.

I’ve had a few stints in my life where I was on anti-anxiety medication; I had never been prescribed antidepressants, but had (and have) several friends who have used these drugs currently and in the past, alike.  While I was not on the anti-anxiety meds during pregnancy, I’m curious to see what your take is on the subject, ladies.

Have you had experience where it was imperative that you remain on your medication throughout your pregnancy?  Does the fear of taking antidepressants during pregnancy prevent you from conceiving?  Does a mentally-healthy mom equate to a subsequently healthy child in your eyes?



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23 thoughts on “Are Pregnant Women and Anti-Depressants a Good Combination?

  1. I know I’ve posted this before but I’m going to do it again. I’m bipolar type II and I have decided not to get pregnant because I take 1200mg of Lithium a day and I would have to go off it entirely during my pregnancy. Because Lithium is a heavy metal the risks with taking it during pregnancy are numerous and serious. And Lithium works really well for me and I don’t want to mess with it. I don’t want to have another episode, be hospitalized, or kill myself. So that’s where I stand.

    Obviously if I were to get pregnant by some freak accident, I would have to reevaluate my stance.

    • Of course you can Abbi, they give them out like m&m’s to women. If you complain of something and they can’t find the cause you must be crazy being that you’re a woman and all.

      • Now, now. It all depends on your doctor. Don’t create an all encompassing ‘they’.
        My doctor would certainly never give out anti-depressants without ensuring there were other forms of support in place. And walk-in clincs don’t give out anti-depressants, just referals.
        I imagine there are plenty of doctors who would rather just use antidepressants like a band-aid, but not all of them.

      • Quite. I had a dr try to push them on me while in college. They tried to get half the students in town on anti-depressants for some reason. One of my friends was on them because she was working through some issues with her mom (totally legitimate stuff) and her dr thought being drugged would help. She took them for a few days until she missed a dose and decided to take 2 the next time to catch up. She felt so great after doing that that she thought she should do it again. As soon as we found out we took them off her and flushed them.

        • Well, I had an issue with abdominal pain for YEARS. I would get this horrific pain several times a month that would totally disable me and I got bloating and horrible migrane headaches. I went to numerous doctors who ran tests and found nothing. They quickly concluded that I was nuts and gave me antidepressants even though I had no depression symptoms. I refused to take them and continued to see doctors looking for an answer and eventually I found one: Endometriosis. By the time I found out it had progressed to the point that it had spread through my whole body, I had it attached to my brain, in my lungs, my legs ect. All the pain I complained of for years was REAL. If I had taken those antidepressants it would have totally screwed up my brain chemistry and given me problems I previously did not have. Pain is not imaginary, it’s real. Don’t let any doctor tell you otherwise.

  2. “This, of course, does not apply to women who have severe psychological disturbance; they are primarily speaking to those women who suffer from “mild or no symptoms” of depression.”

    what an odd statement.

    from what I know about my own little brain, i would much rather stay on medicine (if needed) if I ever got pregnant. And definitely right after. I don’t want to go crazy and drown my baby or something.

  3. I was on an anti-anxiety medication before I had my daughter, and luckily, was able to stay off them while I was pregnant and up until she was about three and a half. Then I had a really bad panic episode, and I’m now back on an anti-anxiety medication. I do want to yhave more kids, and it honestly does worry me, thinking about being off them while I was pregnant. I dunno… I guess the best thing to do id trying to go off them for a few months before you try to get pregnant.

    • I have anxiety attacks and they were horrible when I was pregnant. I just kinda dealt with it. It sucked. Luckily it was something that, although unpleasant, wasn’t going to make me suicidal or anything.

  4. This is actually a current concern of mine. I’m taking 20 mg of Lexapro currently for anxiety/depression. I’ve suffered from both for most of my life, but have only been treated for the last 2 years. I have wondered how to handle the situation when my husband and I want to have kids.

    I’d love to hear that I could stay on them while pregnant, because that seems like something that would be a very high stress/high anxiety time in my life, but obviously, I would never stay on them if it would hurt the baby.

  5. just go look at Heather Armstrong (dooce.com) if you really want a comprehensive look at why some women want (and NEED) to stay on their meds during pregnancy. especially this one: http://dooce.com/2008/12/02/bump-watch-begins
    and this one:
    http://dooce.com/2007/12/13/because-i-couldnt-say-it-phone.
    She’s amazing and strong and has some really important things to say about her decision to take/stay on drugs during her second pregnancy after a horrible time after her first.

  6. when i found out i was pregnant the first time around i was on lexapro. the smallest dose, once a day. i quit cold turkey… by the time i was hitting my third trimester i hated myself, my husband, my baby, anything that had to do with the baby inside of me i HATED. i resented everything. and then one day i woke up, went to my midwife and said this is wrong. every bit of every thing that i’ve been thinking is WRONG and i DON’T resent my baby and i don’t want to look back on my pregnancy and my infant and think i actually hated this tiny being. she very VERY promptly put me back on my lexapro. that baby? weighed in at 8 lb 4 oz, was TWO WEEKS TO THE DAY LATE, and everything that’s wrong with that kid is wrong with his mom and dad. seriously, he’s got ONE food allergy and is allergic to bees and ants. that’s it. mentally and physically he’s ahead of his time and the same can be said for his sister, WHO the moment i found out i was pregnant went to my midwife and TOLD her that i would be going through my pregnancy on drugs unless she specifically advised me that it would bring a brainless baby into the world. this time i was on cymbalta because, oh my GOD… postpartum, much? i was one of THOSE mothers who had terrifying nightmares of throwing first born across the room or driving off in the middle of the night and never returning home because this genius decided to drop her meds cold turkey again after baby number one came home in case it leeched into her breastmilk. did i mention i’m totally a genius. TOTALLY. anyways, BY FAR HANDS DOWN number 2′s pregnancy was the BEST pregnancy ever. remained on cymbalta 100% of the time before, during and after pregnancy. had to up the strength postpartum, but still. baby was 8 lb 13 oz, a week and a day late, and again like her big brother is off the charts mentally/physically.

    my advice is this, EVERY WOMAN IS DIFFERENT. use your best judgment alongside your doctor/ob/midwife’s advice. the pros of remaining on the medication almost always outweigh the cons. i can not imagine how i would be able to live with myself had i actually caused myself or my child(ren) harm and i know that it wouldn’t have been possible to get to the point i’m at now without a little help from medicine and therapy.

    • Thank you for sharing this. Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different and no single rule can work for everyone.

      I have had mild to moderate depression since my teen years and went on Effexor 3 years ago. It changed my life. I’ve done talk therapy and meditation and I could not have had the full benefit of either without having started the medication to get me to a point where I was receptive to evaluate the causes and symptoms of my situation.

      I worry about getting pregnant while on the medication and have been trying to reduce and ween myself off of it for the past year or so. Unfortunately I always return to the depths of my depression and end up back on the higher dose. My doctor is supportive of my efforts and says it’s best not to be on them while pregnant, but if I need them we’ll work with it. I am a work in progress, but life is too short to hate everything and cry all the time.

      I’m happy to hear your success story and it gives me optimism that I can have a baby and not have to sacrifice my happiness at the same time just because my brain chemistry is imbalanced.

  7. I had a very difficult pregnancy and dealt with hyperemesis the entire 9 months. I was sick as a dog and trying to hold down a full time job. I have depression that comes and goes and have since I was a teen. My doctor changed my prescription that was safer during pregnancy. He stated that a healthy mom is what is best for the baby. You can not properly care for the baby and yourself if you are dealing with moderate to severe depression. Every doctor I have spoken with since has had the same opinion. During gestation, severe stress in the mother’s life can affect the baby. When a child is placed in a high stress situation, the brain does not develop correctly and the child is stuck in survival mode. (Fight or flight)

  8. I took Zoloft during my entire second pregnancy and breastfed my daughter for 11 months while taking it. She has no ill effects at all.

    Every person’s body is different. Obviously there are medications that have been proven to cause problems when taken during pregnancy. Of course women shouldn’t take them.

    I don’t think antidepressants fit into that category. Having a severely stressed mother during pregnancy can’t be good for a baby’s development either. My postpartum depression was so severe after my first child. Being on Zoloft with the second, I can tell you it was MUCH easier to deal with and allowed my family to enjoy that time more.

  9. This is such a tough one. I have been told my numerous people to kick my ‘dependence’ on the meds and to ‘deal with’ my problems.

    I’ve also been told that I shouldn’t take the medication while pregnant as my baby will be ‘addicted’ to the drugs too. I find this really upsetting and unfair, as it often comes from people close to me who are genuinely well meaning- but really haven’t made an effort to understand the disease. It’s a disease. You wouldn’t let a diabetic stop taking their insulin because they’re pregnant.

    If you suffer from depression and anxiety and can’t trace it back to a major life trauma- there’s a good chance it’s genetic and your kids will suffer it too anyway.

    My personal feeling is that it would be dead irresponsible of me to stop taking it while pregnant.

  10. I’m not a huge fan of antidepressants at any time and I won’t take them personally because I feel that it would be replacing one problem with another for me because I’m quite sure I’d wind up addicted. That said, if there’s one time in your life that you should be medicating for depression it’s during pregnancy because that’s a horrific time to do something stupid. If you are depressed and suicidal and take an overdose at any other time you might survive and work past it. If you take the pills while you’re pregnant and you survive but the baby doesn’t then your chances of ever getting past that are pretty slim.

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