Taking Antidepressants during Pregnancy – what you need to know

Pregnancy is a joyful time for expectant mothers, but unfortunately, this might not be true for everyone as some women have experiences with mild to chronic or severe depression.

If you are depressed during pregnancy, this can affect both yours and the fetus health.

Antidepressants are one of the treatments used for this condition, but they are considered risky options. This article will tell everything you need to know about taking antidepressants during pregnancy.

Depression during pregnancy is actually a health condition that you need to pay attention to and to ensure that you don’t develop any complications.

According to the statistics, about ten to twenty percent of the pregnant women usually suffer from depression symptoms.[1]

This condition is found mostly in women who are very young, have a history of depression, or going through some stressful events. Thankfully, there are ways for you to manage and treat depression while you are pregnant.

What Causes Depression in Pregnancy

You could experience depression as a pregnant woman because of the hormonal imbalances which change brain chemistry.

Other causes include relationship problems, family history, trauma or abuse, stressful situations, fertility treatments, fear of body changes, suffering a miscarriage in the past, no support from a partner, financial burdens of raising a baby, unplanned pregnancies, and pregnancy complications.

Depression in pregnancy can cause you to experience symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, sleeping too much/sleeplessness, overeating/loss of appetite, lack of interest, low self-esteem, inability to concentrate, guilt, hopelessness, and unhealthy thoughts regarding suicide/death.

Taking Antidepressants during Pregnancy

pregnancy depressionWhen it comes to antidepressants use, this topic is a controversial one for women who are pregnant.

Being depressed during pregnancy could affect your health as well as that of your baby. This is because you are more likely to resort to habits which are not healthy such as smoking, using illegal drugs, and drinking alcoholic beverages.

All of these are high-risk behaviors for any woman who is pregnant. Aside from that, you might not take proper care of yourself in terms of getting the right amount of supplements, medicines and nutritious food that you should have during this time.

Aside from that, if your depression is not treated the condition can lead to premature birth, hypertension, developmental problems, and your baby having a low birth weight.[2][3]

There are also cases where some women who are depressed during pregnancy might have an increased risk to experience postpartum depression.

This is why treatment is must, especially for anyone who has prolonged, recurrent, or severe depression.

Pregnancy is a very sensitive situation and doctors have to be overly cautious when prescribing any form of medication to avoid side effects to the mother and fetus. However, treating depression is unavoidable during pregnancy in most cases.

Antidepressants are one of the most common depression treatment options even though they are linked to many harmful effects or might pose certain risks.

There are various studies still underway when it comes to the use of antidepressants in pregnancy since it is contended that this type of medication might pose severe health problems for the baby and mother.

Some of the studies show that consuming certain kinds of antidepressants in pregnancy might lead to congenital malformations in your baby.

In addition to that, there is a possibility that after birth these babies will experience some withdrawal symptoms.

These include symptoms such as tremors, incessant crying, disturbed sleep, or gastrointestinal problems. It is also reported that women who are using antidepressants in the first trimester might have babies who have heart defects.

Some other risks include miscarriage, preterm birth, pulmonary hypertension, birth defects, and more.[4]

When compared to many of the other problems which are linked to depression and are left untreated, the risks posed by antidepressants might seem minor.

There is a study that was published to show where the exposure to the antidepressant drugs in the womb will cause problems for less than one percent of the children.

In addition, it is reported that only some kinds of antidepressant medication are connected to such risks.

Based on the above, it would seem like the solution is to strike a balance between the risks and benefits. The benefits of getting treatment for depression should offset the side effects that the antidepressants might cause and vice versa.

Another suggestion would be to take the safest antidepressant to reduce the risk as well as get advice from a doctor with regards to the safety of using the drug while you are pregnant or if you are planning to get pregnant.

In closing, you should also know that there are several other treatment options available for depression such as psychotherapy. If you have doubts about using antidepressants, even as a nursing mother, this therapy would be an alternative to these drugs. Be sure to consult your doctor to know what is right for you.
Image: Pixabay


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3895310/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15105180
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11836191
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28082367
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