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Are Antidepressants Safe During Pregnancy?

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Curejoy Expert Claude Butler Explains:

Antidepressants in most cases of depression can help relieve your symptoms and make you feel healthy, but when it comes to taking antidepressant while you are pregnant, that’s a pretty risky thing to do. Perhaps, most of you will end up being confused because taking antidepressants during pregnancy might pose health risks for your baby but on the contrary, stopping taking it might pose risks for you.

Psychiatric experts and ob-gyn experts believe that if you have mild depression and have been symptom-free for at least six months, you can stop using antidepressants under a doctor’s supervision before getting pregnant or while you are pregnant.

As subtle as it sounds, the dilemma between taking antidepressant and stopping it during pregnancy is a pretty tough one to make. Thus, the decision to use antidepressants during pregnancy should be based on the balance between the risks and benefits of taking it.

How Is Taking Antidepressant Threat To The Baby?

When you are on antidepressants throughout your pregnancy or during the last trimester, there are high chances that your baby might experience temporary discontinuation symptoms like jitters or irritability at birth. Moreover, not even tapering dosages near the end of pregnancy is recommended, since it’s not thought to minimize newborn withdrawal symptoms. One of the experts on the matter says that it might pose challenges for you as you enter the postpartum period — a time of increased risk of mood and anxiety problems.

Moreover, a study in the journal Infant Behavior and Development found that babies born to depressed moms are more irritable, less active and attentive, and have fewer facial expressions than babies born to moms without depression. The use of antidepressant during pregnancy also increases the chances for preeclampsia, preterm labor, high blood pressure, and low birth weight babies.

Low and High Risk Antidepressants

Further, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro – which are the most commonly used antidepressants during pregnancy are not considered safe anyway. Firstly, it is a synthetic chemical that disrupt the serotonin system. Secondly, the SSRI antidepressants freely cross the placenta and enter the fetus; Animal studies show harm and even human studies with the drugs show harm.

Fortunately, not all antidepressants are highly prone put baby’s health at risk. Some medications like tricyclics, such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and imipramine (Tofranil), as well as the newer drug buproprion (Wellbutrin) used for depression are considered as a less dangerous drugs. Reportedly, these don’t cause a significant increase in the number of birth defects or other fetal toxicity.

Note: Taking or stopping to take antidepressant during pregnancy is a very critical decision to make. If you’re already taking an antidepressant and you want to stop taking it while you’re pregnant, be sure to consult your doctor on how best to do this.