The Truth About Antidepressants During Pregnancy

 

I recently saw an article pop up on my Facebook feed that said: women who take antidepressants during pregnancy are more likely to have children who are depressed.

 

I was furious to read something like this. Like seething. I think there may have been fire coming out of my eyes as I was yelling at my computer screen. 

 

There are SO many things wrong with this statement I don't even know where to begin. 

 

For one, depression has a genetic component so the fact that a woman took medications during pregnancy is likely not the reason why her child went on to develop depression. Depression is passed down in families and it's possible there was genetic loading that put the child at risk.

 

In addition, except in very rare cases, genetics alone do not cause depression.

 

Some people are more at risk of developing it than others, especially if they have a family history of depression, but that doesn't mean your child will 100% develop depression just because s/he will be born into a family that carries that history. 

 

Lastly, I have never...NEVER...met a woman who didn't think 800 times before taking medications during her pregnancy.

 

There is absolutely NO need to be shaming her and making her feel even worse about this decision by a wildly inaccurate and blaming article like that. 

 

There's SO much junk information out there and it infuriates me how it feeds into the fear-mongering that is prevalent in the fertility and pregnancy worlds!

 

Effectively managing depression during pregnancy is not just so you can feel better.

 

Yes, it's very important that you feel emotionally and physically well during pregnancy. Of course!

 

But depression during pregnancy is not just impacting you, it affects your pregnancy as well. 

 

Untreated or mismanaged depression has been linked to spontaneous preterm labor, preterm delivery as well as low birthweight in babies...even for women who otherwise have no pregnancy complications.

 

So please understand that getting support for your depression isn't just for you but is critical for you to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby.

 

Would you benefit from antidepressants?

 

If you've tried everything - lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, stress reduction, psychotherapy, alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga - and nothing is helping to bring up your mood, consider talking to your doctor about antidepressants.

 

Antidepressants don't cure depression but they can give you the extra boost in your mood to be able to evaluate your life and make the necessary mental and physical changes for long term improved health.

 

What you need to know about antidepressants and pregnancy

 

Take the right antidepressants.

 

If you are considering antidepressants, talk to your OB, MFM or reproductive endocrinologist about pregnancy-safe brands. Please do this even if you are not pregnant yet. Not all antidepressants are safe for you and your baby so make sure you are proactive about the medication you are taking so that as soon as you are pregnant you know you and baby are still safe.

 

Don't let your OB monitor your dosage

 

Have a psychiatrist manage your antidepressant dosage, not your OB, MFM or RE. Psychiatrists are specialists in managing, monitoring and prescribing medications such as antidepressants. Other doctors are not.

 

Just because because they can dole out a prescription does not make them the expert on a particular drug. (Tweet that!)

 

Just like you would see a cardiologist for heart health and a podiatrist for foot health, make sure you are being monitored by a psychiatrist for medications for your mental health. (Tweet 

 

Start therapy while you're taking antidepressants

 

If you start on antidepressants, work closely with a psychotherapist who can help you make the necessary cognitive, mental and emotional shifts to help you manage your depression.

 

The most effective treatment for moderate to severe depression is a combination of antidepressants and therapy. (Tweet that!)

 

Like I mentioned above, get a specialist for this. Most psychiatrists are able to manage medication type and dosage appropriately but are not well-trained in psychotherapy.

 

If it seems overwhelming to find two new providers for your care, think of it this way: you're building your team to help you have a healthy pregnancy so you can bring home a healthy baby.

 

Be patient and tell your psychiatrist any and all side effects.

 

Not all medication brands and dosages work with everyone. Be patient as there will be a period of trial and error until you and your psychiatrist find the right dose and brand that works best for you. 

 

Make sure to report all changes to your health even if you aren't sure they're related to the medication so your psychiatrist can evaluate if this particular brand is right for you.

 

This is not forever.

 

Just because you are on antidepressants doesn't mean you will be taking them for the rest of your life.

 

With the huge hormonal shifts and stress that come with fertility medications or pregnancy, sometimes the extra support of antidepressants is necessary to get through this phase of life. But it doesn't necessarily mean you will be on antidepressants forever.

 

Never ever stop antidepressants cold turkey.

 

You need to slowly wean yourself off. So if you just found out you're pregnant and scared that you're on the wrong type of medication, call your OB or psychiatrist. See if you can switch brands but do NOT stop.

 

The effect of stopping antidepressants without weaning can be worse than the depressive symptoms themselves. 

 

Don't forget that you are amazing.

 

There is nothing wrong with you if you need to take antidepressants during pregnancy. Nothing at all! There is nothing to feel ashamed about or to feel guilty about. You are taking care of you and your baby in exactly the way that you both need.

 

That is the mark of a superwoman.

 

An additional resource for you

 

I know how hard it can be to keep your mood up, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy or are on bed rest. The stress of it all and how broken and guilty you feel for everything going wrong can really weigh on you.

 

By managing your depressive symptoms and your pregnancy health, you can help yourself stay pregnant as long as possible. If you want to know how you can do that during your particular pregnancy, schedule a complimentary consultation and I'll map out for you the steps you need to take to help yourself have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

 

Schedule your consultation at parijatdeshpande.com/apply

 

I can't wait to speak with you!

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