Pregnancy & Anti-Depressants

Jennifer Bunn RN, tells us it is estimated that 1 in 10 women take antidepressants. The American Psychiatric Association (APA), along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued a joint report to attempt to clarify the use of antidepressants during pregnancy.

The report makes clear that women who have made suicide attempts in the past or who are presently suicidal, those who have bipolar disorder and those who have had psychotic episodes should be left well enough alone, and should not stop their treatment with antidepressants during pregnancy.

Use of certain antidepressants known as SSRIs during pregnancy has been linked to birth problems such as low birth weight and premature delivery of infants. Drugs in this category include
-- Paxil,
-- Zoloft and
-- Prozac.

There is no definitive proof that these drugs cause these outcomes due to the fact that mental health issues, such as depression, can account for these outcomes under certain conditions.

The bottom line? For those women with mild depression or no symptoms at all in the past six months, gradually reducing and stopping antidepressants before becoming pregnant may be the best option.

For women with more moderate or severe symptoms, coming off of antidepressants may not be an option. In these cases, careful medical monitoring may be the best that can be done.

Because so little is known about the risks of antidepressants to the developing fetus, and there are few studies supporting either the continuation or discontinuation of antidepressants during pregnancy, physicians and mothers-to-be must all weigh the options carefully, considering the health of the mother as well.