Pregnancy is not just all happy moments always. Along with it comes a lot of hormonal changes which can lead to conditions like depression. Pregnant women suffering from depression go through a very difficult time. Untreated depression can have harmful effects on both the mother and the baby. On the other hand, pregnant women put their babies at risk by taking antidepressants that are the current standard of treatment. The good news is there are some medications for depression that are considered low risk during pregnancy as they don’t cause a significant increase in the number of birth defects or other fetal toxicities.
Pregnancy and Depression
Pregnancy hormones were once thought to protect women from depression, but researchers now say this isn't true. In addition, pregnancy can trigger a range of emotions that make it more difficult to cope with depression. When pregnant, some women battle depression and might require antidepressants to manage their symptoms. More and more women are taking antidepressants while pregnant to keep their symptoms in check. One study found that between 1998 and 2005, nearly one out of every 20 women reported using an antidepressant three months before becoming pregnant or during the pregnancy.
Untreated depression can also take a toll on family relationships. Your relationship with your spouse and kids, all need your care and attention. For some pregnant women, regardless of their mental state, it can take all the energy they have to care for themselves. Depression and the suffering can become intolerable for everyone.
But, is it safe to take antidepressants when you are pregnant? Will the antidepressants cause more harm to you and your unborn baby than controlling? What are the effects of consuming these pills you are pregnant?
Research shows that many antidepressants, especially the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and older medications, are generally safe. Birth defects and other problems are possible, but the risk is very low.
Is treatment for depression important during pregnancy?
Yes, it is. Depression treatment during pregnancy is extremely essential. Untreated depression can lead to not taking optimal prenatal care, like eating healthy foods or taking care of themselves properly. There are more chances of the woman turning to smoking or drinking alcohol, which can result to premature birth, low birth weight or other problems for the baby. It can also increase postpartum depression and cause difficulty bonding with the baby.
The risk of birth defects and other problems for babies of mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy is very low. Few medications have been proven safe and can be consumed without question or apprehensions during pregnancy. However, some types of antidepressants have been associated with health problems in babies.
What are the anti-depressants used in pregnancy?
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are generally considered an option during pregnancy, including citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft). Taking SSRIs during pregnancy may increase the risk of some complications for you and your baby. However, different SSRIs have different effects, and the risks may be very small.
Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
SNRIs are also considered an option during pregnancy, including duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
This medication is used for both depression and smoking cessation. Bupropion isn't generally considered the first line treatment for depression during pregnancy. Sometimes it might be an option for women who haven't responded to other medications or those who want to use it for smoking cessation as well.
This class of medications includes amitriptyline and nortriptyline (Pamelor). Tricyclic antidepressants aren't generally considered a first line or second line treatment. They might be an option for women who haven't responded to other medications.
Making the decision to take or stop taking antidepressants in pregnancy is not easy. Gynaecologists and psychiatrists agree that if you have mild depression and have been symptom-free for at least six months, you may be able to stop using antidepressants under a doctor’s supervision before getting pregnant or while you are pregnant. Consider your own circumstances and make the decision based on the risks and benefits unique to you. Psychotherapy and lifestyle changes might be all that you need to manage your depression.
Never stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first. Most antidepressants require weaning to safely stop the drug. Remember, the risks associated with most of the antidepressants in pregnancy are extremely low. Untreated depression could pose a greater risk. Hence, make a wise decision which is crucial for you as the mother as well as your baby.