Pregnant, Depressed, Anxious, and Antidepressant Medication

by New York Behavioral Health Staff

This question has become a real quandary for pregnant women. Thirty years ago, they were told by their doctors not to take any medication, prescription or OTC, that wasn’t absolutely necessary. And most moms-to-be adhered to that advice. But physicians’ advice, as well as the statistics on use of medications during pregnancy, seems to have changed drastically over the past 30 years.

Antidepressant Side Effects

In general, drug use is now significantly higher with all populations than it was decades ago. Some young women are even being prescribed antidepressants, for example, for menstrual problems or anti-anxiety drugs when they are worried about getting into the right college. So, if they become pregnant, they might have months of these meds in their bloodstream by the time they discover their condition.  Are we overdoing it? Should women of childbearing age be prescribed these medications when there are reports of birth defects being linked to mother’s use of prescriptions, such as SSRIs (anti-depressants), during pregnancy?

Medication During Pregnancy

The argument for this type of medication use during pregnancy is that the effects of untreated depression and/or anxiety on the woman can be harmful to the fetus. The same goes for medication for conditions such as asthma. So it is recommended that the expectant mother discuss the ramifications of each with her physician. But even more important, all reproductive-aged women need to be made aware of the potential benefits and risks (for a child in utero) of taking SSRIs.