Did you know about 12 million women in the US experience clinical depression each year? What happens to these women when they become pregnant? According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, 13% of pregnant woman took antidepressants at some point during their pregnancy.
For many women, the choice of whether to continue with their medication when they become pregnant is a difficult one. They must weigh the risks of not treating their depression with the risk of what the drugs may do to their unborn child.
The American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released guidelines to help doctors and their patients determine whether or not to continue treatment with antidepressants. There isn’t a whole lot of information out there about what effects antidepressants have on babies. Some studies have suggested that drugs like Paxil may increase the risk for congenital heart defects. Untreated depression has definite risks to babies, so mothers who experience psychotic episodes, have bipolar disorder, or who are suicidal should continue taking their antidepressants. Women with milder or no symptoms for six months or longer should be weaned off antidepressants before becoming pregnant. Talk therapy is also recommended.
One thing is certain, if you are pregnant and are taking antidepressants, you should not quit taking them without supervision from your doctor. You should not stop taking them cold turkey since it can be dangerous. If it is safe for you to stop taking them, your doctor will work out a schedule for you to wean yourself off the drug safely.
There are also natural ways to deal with depression. Writing in a journal, exercise, helping others, doing something creative, talking with someone who understands, and getting involved with a group are all ways that can help you combat feelings of depression.