Pregnancy means a new life, a new experience, a new person to care about and a new joy. But for some, the issues ranging from mild to clinical depression during pregnancy can really hamper one’s experience of being a mother. Some women experience crying during pregnancy, or moodiness, when most would think that they’d be filled with utter joy.
Depression does not only affect the mother but also the child. Depression can affect an unborn baby – as depressed mothers often experience premature births and lower birth-weight for their babies. Increased levels of stress hormones such as cortisol might also reduce a child’s tolerance for stress, thus making them more temperamental, and perhaps making it difficult to calm an overactive child or highly-sensitive child.
The Experience of Loss Related to Depression During Pregnancy
About 14-23% of women tend to experience some sort of depression during pregnancy, encountering symptoms such as sadness, lack of energy, anxiety and so on, and many others experience postpartum depression. The silver lining here is that not all expecting mothers have to suffer from this condition. Depression is very much treatable; with adequate psychotherapy and medication, depression can be reduced substantially in pregnant women, resulting in a happier pregnancy and childbirth.
Like other medications, such as taking zofran during pregnancy, there are concerns about the risks to the mother, and the baby. Many people believe that taking antidepressants while you’re pregnant is too risky, and many doctors don’t prescribe them unless the case is severe. But if the case really is bad that a woman has lost her appetite and is losing weight rapidly, or has trouble getting sleep at all, then this kind of depression has to be tackled head on.
If the case is mild to moderate, the depression can be countered by psychotherapy sessions, but for really bad cases, there are certain drugs that can be used which are harmless for the unborn baby. Truly speaking, there has actually been no evidence that antidepressants cause any kind of harm to unborn children.
A decision to take antidepressants can be made by weighing the possible risks and benefits. The risks of any birth defects or complications to occur are very low, and there are a few medications that have been proven to be safe without causing any complications. Here are the best types of depression medication while pregnant:
Treating Depression During Pregnancy with Medication
Types of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)
These are the types of antidepressants that are generally considered for depression treatment during pregnancy. The commonly used ones are sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa). Though your doctor will know the correct dosage for you, sertraline is one of the antidepressants that has been studied more. For most people, a dosage of 50MG of zoloft during pregnancy is sufficient. 50MG is often the minimum clinical dosage and those dosages that are below 50MG are “sub-clinical,” meaning that it is unlikely that they will deliver results. In studies of more than 10,000 women who took Zoloft during their first trimester, there were small correlations between sertraline use and some birth defects, but for the majority the statistical significance was negligible. Risks were about same.
SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors)
SNRIs are also considered a general option for depression during pregnancy. These include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor XR).
This medication is not one of the first to be used while treating depression, but it can be used both for treating depression during pregnancy as well as smoking cessation. For women that don’t respond to the more common medications well, this is considered as an option.
Similar to bupropion, these antidepressants are not generally the first choice when it comes to treating depression. But they are used when women don’t respond to the more generally used types of medication like SSRIs and SNRIs. These include amitriptyline and nortriptyline (Pamelor).
The bottom line here is that if you are experiencing depression during pregnancy and are or have a history of depression, usually it can be resolved through psychotherapy which includes counseling and other relevant therapies. But if your depression is untreatable by only these methods, the risk of depression during pregnancy seriously outweigh the potential theoretical risks of using antidepressants. Consult your healthcare provider to make an informed choice that will enable you and your baby to be happy and healthy.