Using Anti Depressants While Pregnant
Antidepressants are a type of drug used to help treat people suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other related conditions. They’re one of the main treatments for depression and work effectively for many people. However, if you take antidepressants and are pregnant or trying for a baby, you’ll need to speak to your doctor.
There are now over 30 different sorts of the drug and they fall into four main types – tricyclics, Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs). There are various pros and cons surrounding each type, but your doctor will have prescribed the best option for your personal circumstances.
When it comes to pregnancy, the general advice is that it’s best to take as little as possible during pregnancy, especially the first three months. This refers to any form of medication, but includes antidepressants. If you’re already on the drug and are planning a baby, then it may also be beneficial to not be taking them during the time you conceive too. However, sadly it’s not always as straightforward as this, as immediately coming off the tablets may not be the best situation for you.
As soon as you’re aware that you’re pregnant, or know you’re going to be trying for a baby, the best thing you can do is go and speak to your doctor. They’ll discuss the options with you, weigh up the pros and cons, and help decide the best path for you. Everyone is different, so what works for one woman may not be right for another.
Antidepressants and Your BabyResearch into the risks of taking antidepressants during pregnancy has shown some potential problems. For example, there’s evidence suggesting that mums taking antidepressants during pregnancy have a higher risk of having babies with congenital malformations.
Additionally, there’s some evidence that babies exposed to the effects of the drugs whilst they’re in the womb may experience withdrawal symptoms after they’re born, such as tremors, gastrointestinal problems, distressed crying and disturbed sleep. This is particularly so in the case of SSRIs.
Although some antidepressants can have these effects, it’s not always the case with all of them, so don’t panic and speak to your doctor.
Antidepressants and YouIf your doctor advises trying to come off antidepressants whilst you’re pregnant – and this is something you should only do with medical guidance – then you may suffer a relapse in your depression. Alternative treatments, such as counselling or support groups, may be available and you should check with your doctor in advance.
If you suddenly stop taking an SSRI type of medication, then you may find that you experience sudden symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, vivid dreams, nausea and vomiting.
Coming off antidepressants, especially when it’s sooner than you’d anticipated and you’re pregnant as well, can be difficult and you need to ensure that you’ve got as much support as possible. In some cases, it may be possible to change your prescription to a medication that’s known to be safer when used in pregnancy, so you could still gain the benefits and know your baby isn’t going to be affected.
Everyone is different and has varying degrees of depression. The issue of taking antidepressants when you’re pregnant isn’t clear cut and there aren’t always easy solutions, but it’s crucial you chat to your doctor as soon as possible and get advice on the best option for you.