Don't Stop Antidepressants in Pregnancy

    Women who are taking anti-depressants before becoming pregnant may need to continue taking the medication even after they conceive.

    The American College of Obstetricians and the American Psychiatric Association have joined forces to study the effects of anti-depressant cessation on pregnant women. According to the report, women who are taking anti-depressants before becoming pregnant may need to continue taking the medication even after they conceive.

    The report utilized information collected in earlier studies to evaluate the potential risk factors of depression during pregnancy compared to the risk factors of anti-depressant use during pregnancy. Dr. Charles Lockwood of Yale offered, ""We know that untreated depression poses real risks to babies. That is not conjecture. We know much less about the risks associated with antidepressant use. It is clear that more study is needed."

    In a study completed in 2003, one out of every eight women who were pregnant took an anti-depressant during their pregnancy. The most common prescription drugs were Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil, all selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Later, researchers found that SSRIs, especially Paxil, could increase the chance of lower birth weight, preterm labor and miscarriage.

    The report went on to suggest that a slow withdrawal from anti-depressant medications could be the best option, especially if the woman is planning a pregnancy in the future. The panel also suggests:

    • Women who suffer from severe depression should not stop taking their anti-depressants without guidance from their psychiatrist and Ob/Gyn.
    • Psychotherapy may help women suffering from depression during pregnancy who see no benefit from medication alone.
    • Patients with a history of depression that has stabilized with anti-depressants should seek advice from both their Ob/Gyn and Psychiatrist before continuing to take their medication.

    Ariela Frieder, MD, a psychiatrist specializing in depression during pregnancy believes, "Many women want to stop treatment abruptly and even stop on their own, but this can be very risky."


    Source: Healthnews.com / August 2009