Taking Antidepressants While Pregnant: Is it Safe?

antidepressants and pregnancyAntidepressants make you feel a whole lot better, but you're pregnant so now what? Should you continue to take your medication or should you flush it down the toilet pronto.? Surprisingly, until last week, there were no guidelines to help pregnant women—and their doctors—make that that decision.


Last Friday, the guidelines were published in two medical journals: Obstetrics and Gynecology (a publication of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) and General Hospital Psychiatry (a publication of the American Psychiatric Association).

The gist: Medical experts believe that untreated depression in pregnant women can be harmful not only to the mother, but to her baby and the risk of harm needs to be balanced against the risk of drugs to the developing fetus. So for mothers-to-be who suffer from disabling depression, bipolar disorder, or psychosis, the benefits of antidepressants are likely to outweigh the possible risks to the fetus.

The guidelines take into account the risks that the antidepressants pose to babies before and after birth as well as the impact a seriously depressed mother can have on her baby before and after birth—and well into childhood.

The experts recommend that women with milder forms of depression be weaned from their medication (before getting pregnant if possible) and also try psychotherapy.

The bottom line: If you are taking medication for depression, talk to your doctor before you continue or stop taking antidepressants. She'll be able to interpret the new guidelines and come up with a plan that works for you—and your baby.

Are you—or were you—on antidepressants? What made you decide to keep or stop taking them while pregnant?

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