Is it Safe to Take Antidepressants In Pregnancy?

Antidepressants In Pregnancy

There are some risks in taking antidepressants in pregnancy or while breastfeeding. These include the following: Possible birth defects. There is evidence that taking SSRIs early in pregnancy slightly increases the risk of your baby developing heart defects, spina bifida or cleft lip.

Physicians will usually stick to the class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, in short, SSRIS, with name brands like Celexa and Zoloft. Research has not clearly shown any undue harm to a growing fetus due to the medications.

In fact, there is actually more risk to the mom if she stops medication abruptly—symptoms may become worse and, in some instances, suicidal thoughts may develop.

What are the risks of taking antidepressants while pregnant?

There are some risks to taking antidepressants during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. These include the following:

  • Possible birth defects. There is evidence that taking SSRIs early in pregnancy slightly increases the risk of your baby developing heart defects, spina bifida, or cleft lip.
  • Increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth.
  • Slightly increased risk of blood loss after childbirth. If you take SSRI or SNRI antidepressants in the month before giving birth, there is a small increase in your risk of heavy bleeding in the first 24 hours after birth (known as postpartum haemorrhage).
  • Withdrawal symptoms in your newborn baby. Taking any antidepressant in late pregnancy has the risk that your newborn baby will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include:
    • With SSRIs and SNRIs: jitteriness, poor muscle tone, not being able to cry loudly, difficulty breathing, low blood sugar (which can cause fits), and high blood pressure in the lungs.
    • With tricyclics: fast heartbeat, irritability, muscle spasms, restlessness, sleeplessness, fever and fits.
  • If you are breastfeeding, antidepressants can be passed to your baby through your breast milk. It is possible that the levels could become high enough for your baby to experience side effects from the medication.
  • If you wish to breastfeed, you should avoid taking doxepin (Sinepin).
  • Drugs are not usually clinically tested on anyone who is pregnant. There is not much evidence around how safe it is to take antidepressants during pregnancy. Newer drugs carry a higher ‘unknown’ risk than drugs that have been around longer. This is because scientists have had less time to gather evidence about them.


There may also be benefits to taking antidepressants during this time:

  • You might already be taking antidepressants when you become pregnant. You may feel concerned about becoming unwell or unable to cope if you stop taking antidepressants. This may mean you decide that the best thing for you and your baby is to continue taking them, so you are well enough to care for your baby.
  • Or you may be offered antidepressants to help treat a problem you develop during pregnancy or after giving birth, such as postnatal or antenatal depression.

In extremely rare cases, one of the risks associated with antidepressants during pregnancy is that the baby may develop a heart defect in utero. There are really no proven substitutes for medication in pregnant patients with major depressive disorder.

Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons for both you and your baby, and make sure she had an accurate picture of your condition, including how long you’ve been treated, which medications you’ve been on, and the severity of your condition.

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  1. Pingback: 6 Reasons You Can't Get Pregnant - Fajar Magazine

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