Women who are pregnant will go above and beyond to ensure their babies are safe. Pregnant women change their diets, quit smoking and drinking, and lay off caffeine. During pregnancy, women also consult with their doctors about which medications may be unsafe. Opinions on one class of medication in particular, antidepressants, have been varied across medical professionals.
Antidepressants are among the most popular treatment options for people with depression. These drugs relieve most symptoms and have been proven effective in helping people with depression to feel their best. Deciding whether or not to stay on these medications can often be a difficult question during a pregnancy. Are they safe to take or not?
As this question has been asked over the years, most doctors have taken the position that depression while carrying a child is more dangerous to the health of the child and the mother than any medication could be. Today, many professionals are challenging this popular presumption.
The Food and Drug Administration has released warnings about some antidepressants, stating that they may cause birth defects. Professionals have also found that the research does not support evidence indicating that pregnant women taking antidepressants sleep better, make more of an effort to take care of themselves, or generally feel better.
However, there are negatives on both sides of the debate. Research has shown that autism, ADHD, and other disorders are much more likely to develop in a child whose mother took antidepressants during pregnancy. However, if a mother is suffering from a psychiatric disorder, the child is more likely to have some illnesses regardless of the use of antidepressants.
Antidepressants are an option for women who are expecting, but it is something that should be thoroughly discussed with an obstetrician. The risks vary depending on the antidepressants and the health of the mother. If the mother's depression is severe enough, it could inhibit her ability to properly care for her unborn child, while other women may be able to wean themselves off of the medication and steer clear of any possible harmful side effects.
If you have further questions about the effects of antidepressants during pregnancy, ask your question to our panel of doctors.