Depression is a disease with such symptoms as despair, feeling helpless, anxiety, panic attacks etc. Unlike such common emotional states like sadness or feeling out of energy, depression has a much stronger impact on a person’s lifestyle, work and health. It concerns not only pregnant women but also any person who suffers from depression.
It is very hard to get rid of depression without medical help. The specialist thoroughly examines the patient and prescribes the therapy course that stops depression. If you were taking any antidepressants and became pregnant (or planning pregnancy) then you should consult your doctor about treating the depression during pregnancy. The doctor might change the dosage or prescribe different medication that will be less harmful for your future baby. Some medications are more harmful than the others. That’s why no specialist can say with confidence that antidepressants are absolutely safe for taking during pregnancy.
Despite the doctor’s opinion regarding antidepressants, we must say that untreated depression can be very harmful for both the mother and the baby inside her. Moreover if a woman abruptly stops using antidepressants, the symptoms of the depression can return, which can have harmful effect on the fetus. Naturally, only the doctor can examine the condition and decide if the medication should be taken or not. We would like to have an insight into all the pros and cons of taking antidepressants during pregnancy.
Risk Factors Of Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy
Usually the most widely prescribed antidepressants are the medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). The effects that they may have on the fetus development are still not fully studied. However researches show that particular drugs taken during the first trimester can increase the risk of birth defects.
Taking SSRIs and TCAs can trigger the side effects that go away slowly during the first weeks of the therapy. The side effects can include diarrhea, loss of the appetite, anxiety, decreased sex drive and headache.
Antidepressant use during the third trimester should be under constant supervision. Additionally, the baby can be kept in the hospital after delivery for monitoring for any withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can appear after the delivery because the baby stops receiving the dose of serotonin from the mother’s body. There is no need to worry as those symptoms usually go away within a couple of days, but it is better to be under a doctor’s supervision during that time.
What Happens If Depression Is Untreated?
A risk to the baby that antidepressant use causes during pregnancy does exist, but untreated depression can have adverse effects on both a mother and a baby. A depressed pregnant woman can’t take proper care of herself, by eating healthy meals, having enough sleep, and being calm. A woman who is depressed has an increased risk of preterm birth or low weight birth. Moreover depression during pregnancy puts you in a higher risk of having postnatal depression, which makes taking care of the baby complicated. Additionally, babies born to mothers who suffered from depression during pregnancy are likely to be delayed in their development.
It is important to note that the abrupt stop of antidepressant use is a no-no. So if you firmly decided to stop using the medications, you need to consult your doctor about how to gradually stop taking them. We should remind again that doctor should always control antidepressant use. Self-treatment can cause very undesirable consequences. In conclusion we would like to mention other ways of treating depression during pregnancy, for example, psychotherapy sessions, acupuncture, phototherapy, hypnosis etc. But only your therapist can decide which method is suitable for you.