Untreated maternal depression can adversely affect the pregnancy and increase the risk for miscarriage, low birth weight, small-for-gestational age, hypertension, and increased depressive symptoms. Maternal depression can also adversely affect the newborn and increase the risk for poor bonding, poor feeding, and developmental delays.

Can I take antidepressants when pregnant?

Many medications for depression and other mood conditiona can be savely used during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms should talk to their doctor before changing or stopping any medications, not ust antidepressants. Abruptly stopping these medications can cause serious side effects including dizziness, vomiting, sleeping problems, nightmares, tremors, and irritability.

Every healthy pregnancy has a baseline of bout a 3% to 5% risk for having a baby with a birth defect. There are many studies about SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants use in pregnancy. Some of those medications include sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram. Looking at all of those studies together, SSRI use in pregnancy is not likely to increase the risk of birth defects or other poor outcomes so they can be taking during pregnancy. Mom may need to increase her antidepressant dose to help her remain stable during the pregnancy.

What about breastfeeding and antidepressants?

For moms who are breastfeeding, antidepressants can get into the milk in small amounts but are not expected to cause problems for the baby. The research cshows normal development for those children compared to developmental programs when mom has untreated depression. If mom is feeling down, depressed, hopeless or has lost interest in doing things, she can talk to her doctor or the baby’s pediatrician for help.