Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN
Depressed pregnant woman

If you are currently taking antidepressants and are pregnant, or are trying to get pregnant, there are a few things to keep in mind. Typically doctors will only recommend taking prescription medication if the benefits outweigh the costs.

Safety of Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy

In general, research shows that taking certain medications during pregnancy is generally considered safe. The intensity and recurrence of the depression will impact which medication is recommended as well as the dosage. As you talk with your healthcare provider, these factors will be taken into account and adjusted to keep you and the baby as safe as possible.

Which Antidepressants Are Considered Safe?

In general, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and Wellbutrin are considered safe to take during pregnancy. This means that compared to non-pregnant antidepressant users, there are no notable increased risks or significant differences.

Effects of Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Taking antidepressants during pregnancy can help prevent your symptoms of depression from resurfacing again. This can impact how well you take care of yourself and your growing baby.

Possible Negative Side Effects

Antidepressants can have some potential negative side effects, which you should discuss with your treating doctor. These may include:

Possible Protective Effects

It is notable that a large study of those taking SSRIs during pregnancy birthed babies with a lower risk of preterm birth and birth via Cesarean section. So, in certain cases, treating depression appropriately with medication during pregnancy creates some protective factors for the mother and baby.

Speaking With Your Doctor

If possible, speak with your doctor prior to becoming pregnant so you can come up with the best plan possible for you and your baby. If you already are pregnant, make sure your treating physician or psychiatrist is aware of your condition, and always inform your obstetrician with an accurate account of all the medication you are taking. This way, you can make an informed decision about which course of treatment feels the most comfortable to you.

Ask About Risks of Untreated Depression Too

Although there are some risks to the baby when it comes to antidepressants, not treating your depression can lead to other serious issues and an increased intensity to your symptoms. These include:

Recommendations for Discontinuing Medication

If you are considering going off of your medication and your depression is considered mild, you can discuss tapering off with your doctor. They may recommend you begin or continue to go to counseling or therapy to help manage your symptoms of depression. Your doctor, as well as your therapist, will be able to collaborate and monitor your symptoms so you can receive the best care possible.

Recommendations for Continuing Medication

Your doctor may also recommend that staying on antidepressants is the best choice if your depression is moderate to severe. Untreated moderate to severe depression may cause more risk to you and growing baby as it can negatively impact your ability to care for yourself and your little one. Your doctor may also consider lowering your dosage during the first trimester to decrease the baby's exposure to the medication.

Understanding the Risks

Taking certain prescription antidepressants during pregnancy is generally considered safe. Always discuss the pros and the cons with your doctor before taking any prescription medication or before changing your medicinal regimen. Keep in mind that you should never change your prescription dosage in any way before discussing it with your treating physician.

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Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy