Antidepressants and pregnancy

Is taking antidepressants okay for an expectant mother or will it harm the child?

This is a timely question, as around 5 per cent of women in 2018 use antidepressants like Sertraline, Citalopram, Paroxetine or SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). The big question is – is it safe for pregnant women to be ingesting these different types of antidepressants?

Experts from House Call Doctor discuss what is depression, the potential risks of the medication and what other options are available for soon-to-be mothers.

What are the signs of depression?

The term for depression during pregnancy is called antepartum depression and is a condition which is occasionally overlooked. This is because many women attribute it to their mood swinging hormones. So, it’s important to understand and know the difference between depression and merely a shift in mood.

These are the signs for antepartum depression:

  • Anxiety
  • Feeling guilty or sad
  • Decreased interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Diet changes
  • Having difficulty concentrating.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms for longer than two weeks, seek medical advice.

How dangerous are antidepressants for my baby?

Previously, experts said there were only short-term side effects to new born babies that would disappear after two weeks. These symptoms included fast breathing and mild irritability.

However, a study conducted by JAMA Paediatrics reveals antidepressants and SSRIs interfere with a baby’s brain development – especially in the area that affects emotions.  The research is only in its preliminary stages, so there’s still a long way to go to confirming these findings.

What are some alternatives?

There are some alternatives pregnant women can use to help them relax or even distract them from feelings of depression. Expectant mothers will need to investigate what works for them.

Here are two alternatives that can help with depression:

  • Massage and Acupuncture:

These ancient methods may seem strange to use however, both are proven to help with pregnancy discomforts and so can improve mood.

  • Psychotherapy:

This method focuses on improving moods by communicating and interacting with other people. Interpersonal psychotherapy is very structured and is usually planned out over 12 weeks to help fix interpersonal problems or fasten symptomatic recovery.

Are antidepressants still safe to take?

There is no concrete evidence which proves antidepressants will harm your unborn child, howeverdoctors usually prefer to treat depressed women, as it can be dangerous to ignore the symptoms.

If you think you’re suffering from depression, go and seek medical advice from your doctor. They will offer further information to you.

About the author

Ross Cameron

Ross Cameron

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