While depression in pregnant women may affect the health of the fetus and mother, use of antidepressants during this period, is also said to be risky.
Pregnancy is a period of joy for expectant mothers. However, this may not prove right for all, as some of them may experience mild to severe depression. According to statistics, around ten per cent of pregnant women suffer from symptoms of depression. This condition is mostly found in women who have a history of depression; those who are very young; and those who are going through stressful events in their life. While depression during pregnancy may negatively affect both the fetus and the mother, taking antidepressants during this period is also not considered safe.
Use of Antidepressants
The most common treatment for depression is medication like, antidepressants, and supportive measures, like psychotherapy. Pregnancy is a condition, wherein doctors have to be more cautious before prescribing any medication, so as to avoid any side effects to the fetus as well as the mother. So depression during pregnancy is considered a sensitive situation, where both the condition (depression) as well as the medication for the condition may prove harmful. Even though studies regarding use of antidepressants during pregnancy are still underway, it is contented that such medication may pose serious health problems for the baby and the mother.
Why to Avoid
It is claimed that consumption of certain types of antidepressants during pregnancy may cause congenital malformations in the baby. There is also a possibility that such babies experience withdrawal symptoms, after birth. Such symptoms could be like tremors, disturbed sleep, gastrointestinal problems, or incessant crying. It is also contented that the women, who use antidepressants during the first trimester, may have babies with heart defects. Even preterm birth and miscarriage are associated with use of these drugs. Risks to the baby includes birth defects, pulmonary hypertension, etc.
Why to Use
Depression during pregnancy can affect the health of both the baby as well as the mother. A depressed women may resort to unhealthy habits, like smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, and taking illegal drugs. Such behavior is highly risky, when it comes to pregnant women. Such a woman may not take proper ante-natal care. She may not have food or supplements and medicines on time. Some may also exhibit suicidal tendency, in case of severe depression. Apart from that, untreated depression may lead to hypertension, premature birth, low birth weight of the baby, and developmental problems. In some women, depression during pregnancy may pose an increased risk of postpartum depression. So, treatment is unavoidable, especially for those with severe, recurrent, or prolonged depression.
Use of antidepressants during pregnancy is still a controversial topic. While treating depression during pregnancy is unavoidable in most cases, taking antidepressants may also pose some risks. However, the solution lies in striking a balance between the benefits and risks. In short, the benefits of treating depression must outweigh the side effects caused by antidepressants and vice versa.
The risks posed by these drugs are minor, when compared to the problems associated with depression, which is left untreated. According to a study published by the British Medical Journal, exposure to antidepressants in the womb caused problems in less than 1% of children. It is also contented that only certain types of antidepressant medication are associated with such risks. It is also advisable to use the safest antidepressant to minimize the risk. So, if you are taking antidepressants, it will be better to seek the opinion of the doctor (regarding the safety of the drug during pregnancy), in case you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
There are other treatment options, like psychotherapy, which may not prove beneficial for women with severe bouts of depression. Even nursing mothers, who have doubts regarding use of antidepressants, can replace these drugs with therapy. However, consult your gynecologist and psychiatrist, before replacing such drugs.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.