Taking Anti-depressants During Pregnancy

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Worried about the antidepressants I took while pregnant

September 2007

Despite many fears about doing it, I took Wellbutrin during my pregnancy. I take a relatively low dose (about 300 mg every other day). I really didn't feel I could go off. I tried to but got really depressed and became afraid of a major depression (which I have had before). When I did the ''risk analysis'' with my psychiatrist, we agreed I should stay on. Same with my OB. My son is now 9 months old and healthy. However, I am so worried all the time that something is going to pop up in his development that is my fault. I am constantly watching what he does and how he behaves to make sure nothing is ''wrong'' with him. I want to relax and enjoy my son but this fear is really nagging me. Anyone out there been through this? I read somewhere that 1 in 4 women are taking antidepressants during pregancy so I figure there must be others out there but this isn't something easily discussed among other moms. Thanks so much. Anon

I developed a panic disorder during my first pregnancy and after 6 weeks of barely sleeping agreed to take a low dose of Zoloft. My daughter was and continues to be a happy, healthy girl now 8 years later! During my 2nd pregnancy I developed it again (no symptoms in between pregnancies- go figure!) and took Zoloft again. My four year old is totally fine. Stop worrying! A major depressive episode during your pregnancy also might have harmed your baby (cortisol levels, etc with distress). A depressed mom cannot bond with her newborn. You made the right decision!! another mom

I have an awesome pair of doctors caring for me, who referred me to Natalie Rasgon at Stanford during my pregnancies. She is actively researching the treatment of mood disorders in reproducing women, and has determined that the risks associated with the right antidepressants (Wellbutrin is one of them) are far less threatening than those associated with untreated depression in pregnant moms. My babies are doing well, and I rest comfortably in the knowledge that I made an informed decision that was most statistically in my children's favor. Good for you, for making sure you get the treatment you need, so that your baby gets what's most important from you - your loving and calm nurturing. Jenn

Hi-- The first thing I thought while reading your post was, if you are worrying so much, when your son is healthy, might you still be depressed? My depressions have always been characterized by extreme anxiety and ''what ifs''...yours, too?

I also took antidepressants during pregnancy, after weighing the known risks of the medication and the known risks of depression on a fetus and child. My child, like yours, seems not to have suffered any ill effects (he's now 4.5).

You made the best decision you could. Let go now, if you can. If you find you cannot let go of this fear (or simply replace it with another one), you may want to consider exploring whether you still have some mental health issues to work on. ---Be Kind to Yourself!---

Pregnant, terribly depressed, My OB recommends lexapro

Jan 2007

I am currently 19 weeks pregnant and am having a terrible time with depression. My OB wants me to go on lexapro but I am truly scared to take medication while pregnant. Has anyone been on lexapro specifically while pregnant? What about during the third trimester? I am in therapy but it doesn't seem to be making a dent. I don't want to hurt my baby with medication or depression. anon

I don't know specifically about lexapro in pregnancy. However, there is a contraversy about SSRIs (the class that prozac, zoloft, lexapro etc. are in) during pregnancy. They do have some negative effects on fetal development (mostly minor) --the thing is: so does depression in pregnancy. The idea, until a few years ago, was: either way there are some risks for the fetus, so the better thing would be to get the mother some help. But recently, I think, there has been some research linking Zoloft (thought to be the best bet of the SSRIs until that point) with some tremors in newborns (though these were also seen in the babies of depressed moms). I would really check out the research or have someone check it out for you (a good psychiatrist, for example, NOT an OB). There are some other options: intensive psychotherapy, acupuncture for example, but really you should consult with a good psychiatrist who knows the research to determine just how risky your depression is vs. the medications (this also includes how risky the depression is to you!). Stanford has an ongoing study on the effects of acupunture on depression during pregnancy and offers free acupuncture or massage near your home if you enroll: worth a try! Good luck and I hope you feel better!

i am pregnant and take prozac. i took it zoloft during my last pregnancy, a low dose of between 25 and 50 mg. i'm currently taking 10 mg of prozac. i wouldn't take lexapro. prozac and zoloft are the most studied during pregnancy and nursing and i think are considered the safest. i'd first try prozac. it has a good track record. with lexapro, there is little research. but, do take something!!!! the depression itself is causing chemical reactions in your body too. and, try not to worry. my child from my last pregnancy, when i took zoloft, is absolutely perfect. good luck. anon

I'm trying to get pregnant and am on antidepressants. Before I went off the pill, I went to the Women's Mood & Health Clinic at Langley Porter in SF. My gyn sent me there to consult with someone who specializes in pregnancy & depression issues. I'd previously been on Celexa. We switched me to Zoloft, which, I was told, had the best results with the least amount of adverse effects. I'm still trying to get pregnant, and I feel pretty good about the Zoloft. --Still on the loopy juice...

I have received treatment for depression for the last 7 years and was taking lexapro when I got pregnant with my daughter in late 2003. At the time, according to my OB, the research indicated that there was some risk of taking SSRIs in the first trimester and he advised that I not take during the first trimester. I suffered through the first trimester w/o medication and promptly started taking it for the rest of my pregancy and after. My daughter is healthy and seems to have suffered no adverse affects. I am now almost 29 weeks pregnant with my second daughter and am not taking any medicaiton -- even though it is a daily challenge to deal with my depression sans medication. Although I had originally planned to resume medication after the first trimester, I didn't based on a new study that was published in a major medical journal in Feb. 2006 and then was the basis for an FDA alert issued in July 2006. This study and the alert essentially says that SSRIs taken at any point after 20 weeks increases the risk (from 1-2 per 1000 births to 6-12 per 1000 births) of infants being born with a very serious, frequently fatal, pulmonary disease (PPHN). Alarmed by this research, I consulted with my psychiatrist, pediatrician, OB (who consulted with a neonatologist) and a psychiatrist who specializes in pre-natal depression. No one could tell me that the study wasn't significant or disturbing -- only that you have to weigh the risk of adverse effects of medication against the risks of depression. Not really helpful or comforting when you are in the midst of depression and don't think you can make it w/o medication. I ultimately decided, however, to take it one day at a time w/o medication and determined that if I stopped functioning and/or my depression had a significant impact on my daughter or I became a threat to myself or family, then I would resume medication. So far I have made it through w/o medication but continue to take it one day at a time and plan on immediately resuming medication the instant my daughter is born (even if it means foregoing breatfeeding). Ultimatley, I want to communicate the fact that there is an important new study that, as disturbing as it is and as much as it complicates what your next steps are, should be considered if you want to make an informed decision (you can find it by googling ''lexapro FDA PPHN''). Also, I want to express my empathy. Grappling with this decision was agonizing and very isolating b/c ultimately only I could make the decision w/o any definitive feedback from the medical community. Good luck. anon

Hi, You will probably receive many responses of other parents who recommend that you take anti-depressants, but before you do so, please educate yourself. Lexapro is considered to an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor). Here are some links that give some food for thought: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/08/03/1059849278453.html? oneclick=true and http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/SAFETY/2004/safety04.htm#effexor and http://www.woai.com/mediacenter/local.aspx?videoId=135766,565 I wish you good luck in making a decision that is right for you! Concerned

I am sorry you are going through such a difficult time. I did as well during my second pregnancy with my now 2 1/2 month old baby boy. I was on lexapro before getting pregnant, went off before we began trying and during about the 18th week my mood took a dive and I felt extremely emotional. I choose to go back on the lexapro. I was aware that it is not yet known what effects ssri's have on babies in utero but I felt the pros outweighed the cons in my circumstances. Zoloft had not worked for me in the past and i felt I needed to go to something that was a known entity for me. I am still on lexapro and am nursing my 2 1/2 month old and am happy with my choice. Thus far I see no adverse effects on my son-he's getting more smiley as each day passes!

I also exercised, saw an accupuncturist and a therapist who deals with prenatal and postpartum anxiety and mood disorders. The therapist is Dr. Shoshanna Bennett at 925-735-3099. She was a tremendous help. She is the recent author of Postpartum Depression for Dummies and has another book out on the subject as well. I highly, highly recommend you see someone who understands prenatal/postpartum issues. These hormonal changes can have huge effects on some of us and you deserve to have the help of someone well-educated on the subject.

Support from my family and friends really helped as well especially because going through it can feel so isolating. Being pregnant is tiring enough without depression! Get help with chores and baby YOURSELF as much as you can. REAlly! Finally, know that you are definitely NOT alone. This is so much more common than I knew before I experienced it. In speaking with other women I am sometimes amazed who I end up finding out also experienced it. Each woman comes up with their own way of dealing with it whether they go with meds or not. The important thing is to reach out and use those resources that are out there. You are doing the biggest job there is right now and remember, this will pass. It did for me and I am now a content mama of 2! -A

Trying to get pregnant, off meds, experiencing severe depression

Jan 2007

I'm hoping to gain some advice regarding antidepressants and pregnancy. I have been on antidepressants for almost 8 years now and have tried numerous types (effexor, prozac, paxil, and the most recent, wellbutrin). My husband and I are trying to get pregnant, and I went off the wellbutrin about 6 months ago. I'm not yet pregnant, but I am experiencing severe depression. After all this time, I hate to ''throw in the towel'' but don't know how much longer I can handle the depression without medication on top of the monthly disappointment not being pregnant - I am miserable. I have thought about taking the wellbutrin again until I am actually pregnant and then stopping the meds as soon as I AM pregnant.

I realize the depression will come back, but think I might handle it better if I am actually pregnant - at least then there is a tangible end in sight. My doctor (psychiatrist)strongly urges me to stay off the medication being that there are no long term studies on depression and pregnancy (wellbutrin is a class ''C'' drug, meaning it could be dangerous to a baby). My OB- GYN seemed not to care one way or the other. I would not stay on the drugs while pregnant, just until I actually AM pregnant. Does anyone have any suggestions or experience in this area? I am feeling like we will never be able to have children if I have to stay off medication this long with no results!

Hi there, First of all, I'm sorry you're going through a hard time. It took me two years to get pregnant, and I well remember the monthly sadness when my period arrived. I'm now pregnant with my 3rd, so it all works out in the end, but I will never forget how hard that was. So, cut yourself a little slack.

However, I wanted to tell you that after having bad post-partum with my first child I was put on anti-depressants, (paxil) which I tried to come off when I became pregnant with my second. I became miserable pretty quickly, not depressed as in sad, but cranky, short-tempered, irascible with my daughter, no sense of humor, that kind of thing. Really, I was a joy to be around, and it was no fun on the inside either. I went back on the paxil, the sun broke through the clouds again, the pregnancy was normal, the baby is normal (well, now she's three, so normal is a sliding scale these days) and there you go. When I got pregnant with number 3 I had literally JUST stopped taking the paxil, coincidentally. Unfortunately, I had the same problem as before: Angry, miserable, short-tempered with my kids, humorless, etc. When I finally smacked my eldest daughter on the butt because I lost patience with her I realized I needed to go back on the meds. This time my shrink put me on Zoloft. Prozac is also supposedly safe. ANYWAY, all this to say the following:

Being depressed will not help you get pregnant, and, more importantly, it will rob your days of happiness and increase the stress between your husband and yourself, at a time when you need to love and enjoy each other as much as possible. Your OB/GYN is far better qualified to judge what is safe in pregnancy than your shrink. All three of my OBs (I've had each of my kids in a different city, which sounds like I've been fleeing the law, but is far less interesting than that) have enthusiastically encouraged me to stay on my medication. My Berkeley OB actually pointed out that while the effects of anti-depressants are unclear, the negative effects of maternal depression on the unborn are well-established. The society we live in seems to put the needs of the foetus ahead of the needs of the mother, and I think that's bull- pucky. Go back on the meds, cover your husband with canola and squeeze his little butt from one end of the house to the other. I found, in the end, that laughing a lot while having sex did the trick for us. Good luck. Abbi

Hi - I was on Wellbutrin 150 mg a day during my whole pregnancy with my 1st daughter (for quitting smoking) and my ob wasn't concerned. She is almost 3 now and is developmentally fine (and has been since birth). It's really up to you, for me, being free from cigarettes was the greater good so you just need to figure out if you would feel better with the antidepressant. As an aside, this pregnancy I was not on any meds and have mild depression so I think the Wellbutrin during the 1st pregnancy also helped me not develop depression that time. been there

I took nothing with #1, and ended up with serious postpartum depression, and zoloft with #2. Now #1 has autism and #2 is completely fine. I don't think there's a connection, but I'm still glad I made the choices I did because I was able to function. It's my understanding that there are some studies of zoloft and pregnancy/breastfeeding, and it was why I chose it over the other options. That's the problem, though, with the fact that no hard science exists in this area, it leaves us poor potential moms with these very hard choices that we have to live with. In my (limited) experience, doctors will usually do a ''risk/benefit'' assessment when it comes to pregnancy and medications: if the benefits of being on the drug outweigh the possible risks of the medication, or vice versa, then that's what you use to make your decision. Which is worse? Depression or taking medication while pregnant? Only you can make that decision, with your doctor's and your husband's support, but you have to ask yourself: can you go on like this? Jill

I feel for your situation-- first, being without medication that really helps you, then adding to that the stress of not getting pregnant. First off, it's easier to say than to hear, but getting pregnant can take several months, and you are well within normal there.

Second, I thought that some of the antidepressants are considered safer for pregnancy than others. It is not terribly uncommon for women to be on them during pregnancy. Perhaps Zoloft is considered the safest. You indicated that you had been on a variety of meds over the years, not sure if Zoloft worked for you at all.

I am not sure if they should all be avoided during the first trimester. Might it be worthwhile to see another psychiatrist with real perinatal expertise? You can then go back to the psychiatrist you've been using, if that works better for you.

You may have more options than you think right now. I wish you lots of luck! Caring mom

I read your post with great concern! My first piece of advice would be to restart your medication until you can find another psychiatrist!

My partner suffers from severe depression. Prior to getting pregnant she worked very closely with her psychiatrist about tapering off of several medications that she had been taking, until she was only on prozac. She was on a low dose of prozac for the 1st two trimesters and increased in the 2nd and 3rd. She did fine, the baby did fine (she is now a very health 2 and 1/2 year old)...

Of course you ''never know'' about taking medications during pregnancy, but there is SOME research that some antidepressants are safer than others. Also there is a lot of discrimination against treating mental illness in pregnancy. Do you think a doctor would suggest someone with high blood pressure or diabetes just STOP their medicine while pregnant? Absolutely not.

At UCSF there is a women's depression clinic that specializes in these issues. I don't have their number offhand but I'm sure you could find it online. Please take your medication for now, and find someone who is really willing to work with you on this. It absolutely can be done.

Good luck! anonymous

The problem is is that by the time you know you are pregnant, you will still have been on the drugs for at the minimum of 2 weeks (time of conception to time of when a pregnancy test shows positive). A class C drug can harm a developing fetus! Can you find another antidepressant that can be taken while pregnant? An embryo is doing some big things even that early in the pregancy and could be damaged by drugs. Your ob should be not blowing that off. hope that helps

Please consider switching to a different antidepressant like Zoloft or one that has been studied and is considered to be safe during pregnancy and nursing. It is so important for you to take care of yourself during this time. anon

I highly recommend that you talk to Dr. Luriko Ajari at UCSF Women's Health (415-885-7788). She is a pharmacologist who specializes in women's health issues, i.e. - pregnancy and depression. I have been seeing her for about a year and a half, and she has helped me resolve my depression completely. Now I am trying to get pregnant again. Because I have had several depressive episodes, I really need to be on medication, so under Dr. Ajari's guidance, I will be on Prozac now through the 7-8th month of my pregnancy, be weaned off before giving birth, change to another antidepressant while breastfeeding, and finally go back to Prozac. I know it's not the absolute best thing to be on Prozac while pregnant, but life isn't perfect (otherwise we wouldn't get depression, right?), and this is my best option. Prozac has been around for 20 years now and has lots of research behind it. Under a doctor's guidance, I feel comfortable taking it. If your doctor isn't OK with this, maybe you should get another professional opinion.

Don't think that you will mentally be OK once you're pregnant. You know pregnancy makes you feel crazy, right? And you deserve to feel not depressed while you try to get pregnant, which is hugely stressful in itself. And your husband needs you to not be depressed, too.

Feel free to email me if you want more info. Good luck. sarah

First, whatever you decide, I am so glad that you are confronting this issue head-on. The outcome will be so much better because you are trying to balance your needs with the baby's.

I am the mother of a 16-mo son, and have struggled with chronic depression and severe anxiety/stress. I did rather a lot of research around this issue before/during my pregnancy and here is what I found. First, when it gets bad, remember that it absolutely will get better. Hang in there. Second, you want to consider not only your own mental health and the effects of drugs on a baby, but the effects of your _depression_ on a baby. Just having a mood disorder messes with the fetal environment. Don't panic about that or beat yourself up: if you are aware of this, you can counter the effects of your depression on the baby.

Starting with yourself, here is my advice: treat your depression immediately, but try some ''alternative'' options. I have been able to manage my depression following the advice of Julia Ross, author of ''The Mood Cure''. Ms. Ross has a clinic in the Bay Area, see www.moodcure.com/consult.htm. The treatment is largely nutritional on the the theory that mood disorders can be caused by a deficiency in neurotransmitter precursors -- essentially, the amino acids that make up serotonin, dopamine, etc. Her standard treatment plan includes doses of freeform amino acids, elimination of sugars, 3 servings a day of protein and lots of veggies. I treated myself using her book, even during the pregnancy -- the amino acids have the usual pregnancy/breastfeeding warnings, but a literature review on PubMed showed that in experiments moderate doses of amino acids in pregnant animals have either no effect or beneficial effect on the development of the fetus. If you can afford it you may want to go to her clinic, since your depression seems urgent and you have the complication of a possible pregnancy. Also consider treating yourself for Candida Albicans overgrowth. There's lots on the web, or see ''The Yeast Connection'', and if you have a problem you may want to treat it with ThreeLac (see Google :)

Whatever you do on the treatment front, to negate the effects of drugs/depression on a fetus exercise is incredibly helpful because it normalizes hormone levels. Also follow a good diet; for pregnancy worry more about what you include than what you exclude. I can't recommend highly enough that you follow Dr. Brewer's pregnancy diet plan -- here's a link to a good article on it. http://parenting.ivillage.com/pregnancy/pfitness/0,,40hj-p,00.html I've tried to get the essential information into this short form. Best of luck -- do be as kind and gentle to yourself as possible. a.

I am in my 2nd pregnancy and am taking an SSRI for anxiety. I took the same SSRI during my first pregnancy. My child is healthy and happy and shows no signs of having been adversely impacted by the fact that I took an anti-depressant during pregnancy. I take the lowest possible dose that still keeps me on an even keel. This pregnancy my anxiety has been worse, but not unmanageable. My personal decision was that I would be happier and healthier with the medication, and thus able to provide the healthiest ''environment'' for my unborn baby. It is a personal decision that you have to make based on limited research, but you may want to consider staying on medication even during the pregnancy. SSRI-Taking Mom

Since just a couple of years ago I also was waiting to get pregnant and seeking the ''right'' answer about whether to continue taking my antidepressants, I wanted to write and tell you my story, for whatever it's worth. I'm one of those people who has struggled with severe depression most of my life. In my early 20's I was very bad off -- suicidal, etc. In my mid-20's, I found a great therapist and started taking antidepressants, and things gradually but ultimately radically improved. A couple of years ago, at age 32, I went off Celexa in anticipation of trying to get pregnant. However, I only lasted a couple of months off it because I got very, very depressed, for the first time in years, and despite having a life I loved -- a loving husband, a great job, good friends, etc. Realizing that if I stayed off my drugs very long I could become a danger to myself, I went back on with strong encouragement from my psychiatrist and OB GYN. They both were of the opinion that a depressed mother was much more of a danger to a child than one on a low dose of Celexa (20mg). So, though it took me awhile to come to peace with the decision, I did go back on Celexa and stayed on throughout my entire pregnancy. My son is now a year and a half and seems healthy in every way. I don't know what the ''right'' answer is and wouldn't want to tell anyone else what is the best choice. But I just wanted to let you know that staying on your medication is one possibility, and in the eyes of many docs, can be the best choice for some expecting mothers. I wish you the best of luck in making this difficult decision.
Celexa mom

Sounds like a difficult position to be in. You might want to consider seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in perinatal issues. I am a psychologist specializing in perinatal issues, www.ginahassan.com and part of a group practice, perinatal psychotherapy services, www.perinatalpsychotherapy.com We have a list of psychiatrists experienced in working with women during pregnancy and lactation. While it makes sense to want to stay clear of medication during pregnancy, the current thinking is that it is really a matter of weighing risks and benefits because severe depression, untreated, can effect the fetus as well. So you really want to think carefully about what makes most sense for you as an individual. Acupuncture and other alternative methods can sometimes help, as well as individual or group psychotherapy. If you are interested in any referrals please let me know. There is a lot of current research you might want to look into. Zachary Stowe, and Shaila Misri have both published extensively on the risks of medication vs. untreated depression. Please feel free to call or emai if you would like references, referrals to psychiatrists or alternative health practitioners with expertise in these areas, or would like to come in for a consultation. Best of luck - Gina Hassan, Ph.D.

Thinking about going on antidepressants - depressed for 6 months

August 2006

Hi, I'm about 6 months pregnant, have been depressed during my entire pregnancy, and am thinking about going on antidepressants (specifically, Prozac). I'm concerned about possible effects on the fetus, and I'd like to hear the experiences of other women who have been on antidepressants during pregnancy -- how depressed were you, when did you go on, what drug and dose, how did you decide to go on? Is your child healthy/happy or tdo there seem to be effects from the drugs, and how old are they now? There are some accounts in the archives, but I'd like to hear about more instances. Thanks

I have been using Zoloft throughout my current pregnancy to help treat postpartum depression from my first pregnancy (my daughter turns 2 next month.) I've had no complications and the research I've done indicates that the risk to the fetus is fairly small, especially given the risk of my depression and anxiety symptoms to the fetus as well. My best recommendation is to find a psychiatrist who has specific training in perinatal mood disorders. Contact me directly if you'd like the name of my psychiatrist. Also, I highly recommend the books ''Beyond the Blues'' by Bennett & Indman and anything by Karen Kleinman. Dani

Sorry to hear that you are feeling depressed. This is very common in pregnancy. Your body is going through tremendous changes. I would make an appointment with a Psychiatrist to discuss your situation. Medications that work for one person do not necessarily work for another. You also want to rule out any physical causes to your depression (aside from pregnnacy)

Having a baby is a life changing event and though a positive one, it is stressful and can be correlated with depression. I would consult with a Psychologist as well.

Remember that all drugs impact the fetus in some way and it is not ethical to conduct clincal trials on pregnant women, so we really know very little about how drugs impact the developing fetus (or you for that matter) Also, it will likely take weeks to months to find the right medication and dose for you. It's sort of trial and error. However, this is not to say that you should not explore medications and therapy. You may be also be more suseptable to post partum depression, which can be very serious. Conversly, you may feel back to normal once the baby arrives.

The point is, that you need to speak to professionals. The personal advice you receive from BPN may or may not apply to you.

Inthe mean time, you might check out the baby center for some interesting articles, polls, chat groups etc. on this subject. http://www.babycenter.com/

Good luck and hang in there! TP

I had clinical depression before I was pregnant, and was told that I was at increased risk for PPD. It was recommended that I take medication during my pregnancy to prevent PPD from developing. I took Welbutrin, which is supposed to be safe after the first couple months. Ask any licensed psychiatrist about it. They know the lastest on this stuff. Good luck! Stephanie

I have been on Paxil (20 mg.)for years and became pregnant last September. I did not cease taking my medication throughout the pregnancy because I knew I would suffer terribly. My OB and psychiatris said that was fine and the risks for the fetus were incredibly minimal. One doctor told me that many women who stop taking their meds during pregnancy usually start them again in the 2nd or 3rd trimester because of the depression and anxiety they feel. I had my son in late May and he was healthy and still is very healthy. I actually suffered from post partum depression and ended up increasing my Paxil dosage to 40 mg. after consulting my doctors. I am breastfeeding too and spoke to my lactation consultant who said Paxil is a safe drug to take because little to non transfers thru the breast milk. You mentioned taking Proxac and I am not familiar with how that drug interacts with breast milk, etc. I have read/heard that Paxil is one of the safest anti-depressants.

Good luck. I know that depression is such a difficult thing to go through. Please remember that you need to take care of yourself so you can be a good mother Anonomiss

I am currently 7 months pregnant and on Zoloft 50mg. I have been taking 25mg since month 3 and just increased my dosage. I took antidepressants when i was pregnant with my first child who is now almost 2. She is perfect! There were no ''withdrawals'' or any other problems. I breastfed for 6 weeks and continued with the medication for several months after to combat the post-partum. It was a very hard decision for me but I was so depressed I couldn't function. I talked to both my obgyn and psychiatrist about it and they both thought it was safe. I would think the depression would be worse for the baby to feel on a daily basis than the effects of the medication- which are none to minimal. One thing I decided to do is to not share this information with anyone except my husband. People are judgemental and don't understand unless they've been through it- which is why a support group might be a good idea if you're up for that anon

There is new research showing that even prozac, which is the safest depression med for pregnancy, is not risk-free during the 3rd trimester. However, if you are seriously depressed it may be worth the small risk of taking it. You really should see a psychiatrist anonymous

There have been some new data about SSRI's and pregnancy in the last few months. Do make sure you work with a psychiatrist who knows what she/he is doing so that you get the latest scoop JM

My first recommendation is that since you are considering medication as the solution to the depression you should talk with a Psychiatrist rather than a general medical doctor about getting on medication because they will do a more thorough job of assessing your needs and what medicine is right for you and your situation. The Psychiatrist would be the best person to ask about the safety of any antidepressant during pregnancy and any side effects that may occur because of taking this medicine.

The second suggestion is that you may want to supplement medication treatment with therapy with a Psychologist because many times there are contributing factors in life that lead to depression rather than a strict neurotransmitter imbalance (which is what the medication is supposed to treat) annon

Hi, Have you spoken to a Dr/Psychiatrist about your concerns?

I was on the generic form of Prozac during all but my last month of pregnancy, although I was tapering off it starting around 4 months. The usual dosage was 10mg/day (one tablet). My son is now 6 months and so far, everything has been fine. He's bright-eyed, very alert (has been from the get-go), jovial, and pretty much a typical tyke.

According to my psychiatrist, Prozac is one of the most-studied antidepressants (I guess because it's been around so long, relatively speaking) and has been shown to have no adverse effects on children whose mothers were taking it while pregnant/breastfeeding. I suppose the oldest ''children'' of these studies are now in their 20s or early 30s.

But, you should talk to a Therapist/Psychiatrist to be sure you get all the help you need for your depression; meds are only PART of the solution. If you work for Cal, you can have up to 4 free, confidential counseling sessions at CARE Services: 643- 7754. If more counseling/meds are needed, they will then work with you and your health plan to set you up with a suitable Therapist/Psychiatrist. Good luck, and hang in there! New Mom whose been there

I found myself depressed pretty much right after I found out I was pregnant. Had just gotten a nice pattern going in my life and was on the verge of achieving some big personal and professional goals. I went on Wellbutrin about the 6th month after trying unsuccesfully to manage it on my own. I felt better in about 4 days. I really believe that while my life circumstances made pregnancy less than desirable, there was something hormonal that really brought me down. And while I still realized it was bad timing, the medication allowed me at least able to manage it and work through it.

Baby is fine, but I can't nurse - so that's the downside. But it did help enormously and I'd recommend you do something - otherwise you'll be depressed with a newborn and that's even worse. Your OB/GYN can point you in the right direction for sure - that's what they're there for. Good luck anon

I know this is not a direct response to your question, but I saw this posting today on Craigs List: The STANFORD TREATMENT RESEARCH CENTER is conducting a study of ACUPUNCTURE AND MASSAGE to treat depression during pregnancy. We have treatment providers in San Francisco, the Peninsula, Oakland, and Santa Cruz.

Enrolling women up through gestation week 28. For more information call: 650.723.5886 or email: strc[at]med.stanford.edu

Perhaps you might be interested. I do not know about meds and pregnancy, but having suffered a bout of post-partum depression, I would say, whatever you do, do something. Talk to a doctor or therapist and get help in whatever form works. Don't just suffer. Anon

I'm currently expecting my 2nd child and have been on Zoloft since before my first pregnancy. I take 25mg/day. I tried to wean off of it before I got pregnant the first time but wasn't able to manage my depression without it. I'm so glad I've stayed on it. My son now is 2 1/2 and is a happy, well adjusted kid. I think having a happy mom has been the most important contribution to his happiness. I'm anticipating the same thing with baby #2. Good luck to you! Kim

Hi,antidepressants enter to brain of fetus. During pregnancy you can use Bach remedies. Ask for recommendation in Elephant Pharmacy. It works like homeopathy,without adverse effects Asya

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings to healthcare professionals of new findings from two studies regarding the potential risks associated with both use of, and discontinuation of, antidepressants during pregnancy.

Results from the first study showed that women who stopped using antidepressants during pregnancy were 5 times more likely to relapse than those who continued treatment.

Data from the second study showed that use of antidepressants past the 20th week of pregnancy was linked to a 6-fold increase in the risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) in newborns. PPHN, a rare problem, occurs in 1 or 2 per 1000 births, can cause severe respiratory failure.

Other potential adverse side effects include newborn irritability and difficulty with feeding. Use of Paxil, during the first trimester has been linked to an increased risk for cardiac birth defects.

The FDA advises that women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant to consult with their doctors about use and/or discontinuation of antidepressants during pregnancy. Helene Byrne, BeFit-Mom, www.befitmom.com

Experiencing anxiety - should I go back on Zoloft?

Feb. 2004

I would like to know if anybody has any advice on taking Zoloft during pregnancy? I was on Zoloft for 7 years for Anxiety Disorder. When I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant I immediatly stopped. I have felt fine up unitl now (6 months pregnant). The last couple of weeks I have been experiencing the anxiety again. It is stopping me from doing my everyday duties and making me depressed. I am struggling with the decision if I should just go back on it for the last four months of pregnancy or just tuff it out? Does anybody have any advice/suggestions?

I took Zoloft for depression during my pregnancy with my son who is now 19 months old and very healthy and developmentally on track. Working with a psychiatrist, I switched to Zoloft from Prozac to get pregnant because less (if any) gets into breast milk compared to Prozac. You might want to contact the Postpartum Health Alliance (www.postpartumhealthalliance.org -- they also know about anxiety & depression during pregnancy) to see if you can get referrals to practitioners you can consult with to help make your decision. I don't think ''toughing it out'' is necessarily the best way to go. Your body is sending you the message that you need to take care of yourself, and there's some evidence to suggest that anxiety and depression in pregnancy can affect your baby (e.g., women who have high levels of anxiety during pregnancy may be more likely to deliver early). That doesn't mean you need to take medication. Massage is supposed to be helpful for this. If you're anxious about all this, though, I'd consult with someone who knows about antidepressants during pregnancy to understand the risks/benefits. Given that I decided to take medication, the benefits obviously outweighed the risks for me. Good luck and be kind to yourself no matter what you decide! anon

I too suffer from anxiety and mild depression. While pregnant with my first child (2000) I went off Zoloft. I too, had some trouble around 6 months, and so I did a tremendous amount of research. I even participated in a study at the Univ. of San Diego (your Dr. can help you find the latest results of this study) on the effects of Paxil and Zoloft on pregnancy. I spent a lot of time talking with my OB about it too. All the information that I found,and was given, was very encouraging. I made the decision to take Zoloft during pregnancy and while breast feeding both of my children. The studies reveal that little to no of the medication passes to the child during pregnancy and the same with breast feeding. All resources that I consulted indicated that given the choice it is always better to not take the anti-depressant while pregnant and breast feeding. However, they also advise, that if you need it, and you are stressed and anxiety ridden, it is best to take it. All agreed that being a happy, adjusted mother far outweighs any of the risks. They also agreed that the benefits of breast feeding far out weigh any potential risks from the Zoloft. I am not a Dr. however, and I certainly recommend talking to your OB about any of your concerns. I found mine (Dr. Huibonhoa) to be very open, honest and caring about the subject. Best of Luck Happy Mom

I don't know about Zoloft, but I have taken a medication called Nortryptaline for many years and through one pregnancy. It's an older medication (from the early 70's, I believe) so there is lots of data showing that it is safe in pregnancy. It's sometimes prescribed in pregnancy as a sleep aid, but I use it all the time (pregnant or not) for anxiety and have had very good results and low side effects. The only contra-indication I learned about for pregnancy (through the UC San Diego Teratagin (?) center, which, btw is a great resource) was a very slight increase in colicky-ness in newborns, so I handled this by reducing my dosage in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy. Had a very happy and healthy baby. You may want to ask your doc about this medication. Good Luck. Elizabeth

Take the Zoloft! I took it through both of my pregnancies and both of my children are fine. I was even taking 100 miligrams. Your children will be better off to have a mom who can function! You need it and they need you. I was also worried about possible effects but I really couldn't function without it. I also nursed both of my children for over a year. They are happy and healthy. Good luck!

I had been taking an old-fashioned anti-depressant (Desipramine) successfully for years for low-grade chronic depression when I decided to get pregnant. In anticipation of the pregnancy, I asked my o.b., general practitioner, and future pediatrician their advice on a safe anti-depressant for pregnancy and breast- feeding. They said there are no controlled studies to prove beyond a doubt that any of the a.d. medications are safe (what mother wants to put her child in that kind of study??), but that years of anecdotal results indicate the newer drugs (Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac) have not caused any problems.

So a few months before trying to conceive, I worked with a super psychiatrist in Berkeley who specializes in supervising drug therapy, Dr. John Rosenberg, and switched to Zoloft to see if it would be as effective for me as the Desipramine. If not, we would have tried one of the others.

But the Zoloft worked fine for me. I was thankful to have it during my pregnancy, too, because of all the increased physical and emotional stresses.

My son is 12 months old now, as healthy and happy as can be.

Don't suffer during your pregnancy more than you have to!! I can't imagine that your anxiety will decrease by itself when you have a newborn at home and go through sleep-deprivation, either. Good luck!! anon

Paxil during pregnancy?

October 2002

After all the wonderful recent advice given about Paxil I was wondering if any of the Moms in the network took Paxil during pregnancy and/or while breastfeeding. I had discontinued the use during the first 7 months of my pregnancy but now my OB seems to think it may be benificial for me to resume the dosage. I am concerned of the potential risk, albeit not as drastic as during my first two trimesters (according to my OB). Paxil is transfered to breastmilk but the drug maker says to use with caution, what does that mean? Any advice from Paxil users or those in the know is greatly appreciated. anon

I am one of the mothers who took Paxil during pregnancy and during bresfeeding time with baby #2. I had researched, talked to a lot of people and came to the conclusion that it is safer to take the medicine than being insane and driving everyone crazy around me. Things went a lot smoother than the first pregnancy. I didn't take Paxil with baby #1. My emotions were like rollercosters going up and down by the minute. It was hard to fully enjoy the baby and be with other people. There was a mix of emotions, feelings, etc.I never knew when I would burst and cry. With baby #2, pregnancy was much easier. This was a drugfree labor of six hours all together. Number 2 child is 5y.old, healthy, normal and very together. Most of all I get to enjoy motherhood fully without too many ups and downs. I made my choice. So far I am glad I did. Mother of two

I was on Paxil for three years and found that it changed my life. Prior to getting pregnant I attempted to go off it. I had such a difficult relapse with depression that I lost any motivation to bring a new life into this world, and after lots of consultation with my OB/GYN, psychiatrist, lactation consultants, internet information about psychopharmacology, I decided that the risk of birth defects due to Paxil in utero or in breast milk were far outweighed by the risk to myself and a potential baby, of my being severely depressed. I had an easy pregnancy, a beautiful healthy baby, and I nursed him till he was well past 2 years old. He is now an active, bright, delightful 4.5 year-old. By the way, I enrolled him in a study I learned of on this network, of the development of young children whose mothers had taken antidepressants during pregnancy. He tested well above average in all areas: verbal skills, emotional/psychological development, and physical development. For me, staying on Paxil during pregnancy and during lactation was definitely the right choice. Best wishes to you as you make your own decision. anonymous