If you suffer from depression and seek treatment from your physician, he or she will probably prescribe you a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. If you become pregnant, continuing to take your antidepressants may pose some health risks for your growing child.
Depression during pregnancy
If you already suffer from depression, the changes in your hormones during pregnancy can make it even more difficult to cope with. Treatment for your depression during this time is very important. Left untreated, depression during pregnancy may cause you to feel exhausted, and you may not have the strength to take proper care of yourself.
Should I take antidepressants during pregnancy?
You should discuss with your physician whether or not to take your antidepressants during pregnancy. The decision will be based on balancing the risks and benefits. In general, the risk of birth defects or other health problems for babies whose mothers take antidepressants is relatively low. But you must check with your doctor because some antidepressant medications have been associated with more health risks than others.
In the main, the types of antidepressant that are considered to be safe during pregnancy include:
• Some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as, fluoxetine, sertraline, and citalopram.
• Tricyclic antidepressants, such as nortriptyline, and amitriptyline.
What risks do these medications pose?
Early studies revealed a link between tricyclic antidepressants and a risk of infant limb malformation, but more recent studies have not confirmed this risk. Some studies indicate a possible link between sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram and a rare infant ling disorder known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). However, overall the indicated risks are very low.
Which antidepressants should I avoid?
• Paroxetine – studies indicate that this medication may cause fetal heart defects, particularly if it is taken during the first trimester.
• Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as, tranylcypromine and phenelzine – these drugs may increase maternal blood pressure and inhibit fetal growth.