During pregnancy, the risks of taking antidepressant medication, including selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), must be balanced against the risk to the mother and the foetus of withdrawal symptoms from ceasing intake, including depression and anxiety symptoms.
In the detailed personal account linked below, US military partner, Summer, living in Germany, followed her doctor’s advice, at six weeks, to stop taking Zoloft (Sertraline), an SSRI that she had been on for over three years – as well as Topamax, for her migraines. Whilst she does not state what the doctor’s reasoning was, she writes, having conducted her own research: “Zoloft is not as dangerous to the fetus, but it has been shown to cause withdrawals in the baby immediately after birth (like excessive crying). Topamax has up to a 3% chance of causing cleft lip and/or cleft palate if taken during the first trimester. (Source: FDA).”
The severe withdrawal symptoms of headaches, nausea and vomiting meant that Summer eventually resumed taking Zoloft. After discussions with a psychiatrist, she was put on the maximum dosage of 200 mg: ” The research seemed inconclusive as to the risks for the baby, but even more so, the risk of becoming severely depressed could be even more harmful to the baby.”
She describes feeling better and being more active but continued to experience vomiting and social anxiety about doing so in public. She also says that she lost enjoyment in doing activities she normally enjoys. At the time of writing the account, she was 24 weeks pregnant and still struggling with anxiety and sickness but describes having a routine and being physically active.
The dilemma of taking antidepressant medication during pregnancy is one that should be raised with all women who are prescribed. Withdrawal from SSRIs is recommended to be done gradually, to reduce withdrawal symptoms. In England, the health service advises that: “As a precaution, antidepressants are not usually recommended for most pregnant women, especially during the early stages of a pregnancy. This is because they might be dangerous for your baby. But exceptions can be made if the risks – including of taking Citalopram and/or Sertaline – posed by depression (or other mental health conditions) outweigh any potential risks of treatment.”
To read the full blog-post by Summer on her blog, OutsideThisSmallTown.com, click the link below.
Pregnancy comes with a range of emotions — highs and lows. While it’s a beautiful thing bringing life into this world, the toll it can take on a first-time mother isn’t something commonly discussed. I want to tell you about my personal experience — my first and second trimester of pregnancy and the mental, emotional, […]