Is it Safe to Take Antidepressants During Pregnancy?

Taking antidepressants can be very helpful if you’re suffering from depression, but when you’re pregnant, it’s hard to know if you should keep taking them. House says it’s generally safe to take antidepressants during pregnancy. It has been found to be less safe than .

Antidepressants may help and are available to women, whether depression begins before pregnancy or before birth (a less-discussed condition known as prenatal depression). It is important to be aware of all treatment options.

RELATED: Prenatal depression is the most underdiagnosed pregnancy complication

That’s because untreated conditions like depression during pregnancy can also be dangerous when it comes to health outcomes for both the baby and the mother. development, premature birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, and postpartum depression.

One in five perinatal women will experience mental health problems. It’s important that she knows she has options. We need to make therapeutic possibilities available. Here are some other things you should know:

Low risk of antidepressant use during pregnancy

“Antidepressants are generally safe in both pregnancy and breastfeeding,” said Tiffany A. Moore Simus, MD. Tiffany A. Moore Simus, M.D., is a professor at the UMass Chan School of Medicine, serving on the American College of Gynecology Committee on Clinical Practice Guidelines for Obstetrics.

Dr. Simas says there is some research on the topic, but randomized trial data are lacking (the strongest trend in science). Most studies are observational.

While previous research has shown a link between antidepressants during pregnancy and epilepsy (such as birth defects) in children, the current research is more encouraging.

“Despite some of the potential risks, the absolute risk of many outcomes is low,” Dr. Simas told Motherly.

Citing ACOG guidance on psychiatric medications during pregnancy and breastfeeding, she says the risks of SSRI use should be considered in terms of the risk of relapse if treatment is discontinued. Relapses during pregnancy are more common in those with a history of depression of 5 years or more and more than 4 of her relapses.

RELATED: On Maggie having prenatal depression and being afraid to have another baby

Risk assessment

Research can’t say for certain that they’re “safe,” but recent studies show that antidepressants aren’t as dangerous as we think they are, and aren’t as dangerous as they say.

Study May 2022 neurology Taking them early in pregnancy does not increase the chances of epilepsy or seizures in the baby.

Researchers examined more than 1.7 million children born in Sweden over 17 years. Of those, more than 24,000 were exposed to antidepressants during early pregnancy. Antidepressants included selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

The scientists then looked at medical visits for people who had seizures in the first month or who had epilepsy in the first few years. Of all children, 0.12% had neonatal seizures (very rare) and 0.40% had epilepsy.

Children exposed to antidepressants had higher prevalence of seizures and epilepsy compared with unexposed children.However, we adjusted for factors that may increase the risk of seizures in babies. No association was found between the use of antidepressants during early pregnancy and the risk of seizures or epilepsy in children.

RELATED: 84% of U.S. pregnancy-related deaths are preventable, CDC finds

“Several studies have shown a possible association between maternal antidepressant use during pregnancy and seizures in newborns and infants, but our study does not support antidepressant use during early pregnancy. “This suggests that exposure to the drug does not increase the risk of seizures or epilepsy in children,” Dr. Sujan, Ayesha C, now a researcher at Kaiser Permanente, said in a statement.

“This could mean that the slightly higher risk of such attacks documented in previous studies may be due to other factors such as other illnesses or smoking during pregnancy.” Dr Sujan said.

Mothers self-reported antidepressant use during early pregnancy. The authors note that other studies have found the strongest relationship between seizures in late pregnancy and antidepressant use.

Another recent jam This study compared antidepressant use during pregnancy with autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral disorders, developmental speech, language, learning and coordination disorders, or 145,000 pregnant women taking medications. no association was found with intellectual disability in children.

Note from Motherly: Antidepressants During Pregnancy

I am trying to decide if I should continue my current antidepressants.

“Discussions should not and cannot be focused on the risks of medication vs. no medication alone,” says Dr. Simas. “A risk/benefit discussion must focus comprehensively on the risks of treated and untreated disease, because mental health conditions pose significant risks to pregnant women and their offspring. because it accompanies

One of the things many women try to consider when making choices is trying to predict what their mental health will look like. rear Baby arrives. We already know that past (or current) mental health issues can play a role in the development of postpartum depression, so being proactive can help.

If you have any questions or concerns about starting or stopping antidepressants during pregnancy, the best first step is to talk to your birth care provider and prescribing physician.

RELATED: How the Motherhood Myth Affects Fighting Depression

Featured Expert

Tiffany A. Moore Simas, MD, MPH, MEd, Member of the ACOG Clinical Practice Guidelines Panel – Obstetrics

Dr. Ayesha C. Sujan, now researcher at Kaiser Permanente


Ghaedrahmati M, et al. Risk factors for postpartum depression: a narrative review. 2017. Journal of Educational Health Promotion. doi:10.4103/jehp.jehp_9_16.

Mao Y et al. Prenatal exposure to antidepressants and the risk of childhood epilepsy. pharmacoepidemiol drug safEtty. 2016. doi:10.1002/pds.4072.

Mayo Clinic: Antidepressants: Safe During Pregnancy? January 2022.

Reefhuis J, et al. Specific SSRIs and Birth Defects: Bayesian Analysis for Interpreting New Data in the Context of Previous Reports. 2015. BMJMoredoi:10.1136/bmj.h3190.

Suarez EA and others Association between antidepressant use during pregnancy and the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children. 2022. JAMA internal medicine. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.4268

Uguz F. Antidepressant use during pregnancy and risk of neonatal seizures: a systematic review. 2019. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacologydoi:10.1097/JCP.0000000000001093.

Wiggs K, et al. Maternal serotonergic antidepressant use during pregnancy and seizure risk in children. 2022. Neurology. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000200516.

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