Should You Go Off Antidepressants When You’re TTC?

There’s limited research about how (and if) antidepressants can affect babies while mothers are TTC, but women who are taking antidepressants that could pose a risk to a baby’s health during pregnancy might want to consider speaking with their doctors ahead of time to switch medications if they do become pregnant.

Research concerning the effects of antidepressants on pregnancy is both conflicting and ongoing. Some sources state that certian antidepressants pose little to no risks during pregnancy. These include tricyclic antidepressants, bupropion, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and certain types of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. But other types of antidepressants, including citalopram, fluoxetine, and sertraline, could lead to serious issues with newborns’ lungs if taken during the second half of pregnancy.1

Researchers at the CDC are still trying to determine which antidepressants, if any, pose a risk to fetuses. A recent study, for example, showed no association with taking sertraline and birth defects (in contrast to the above point about rare lung defects), but did show that the use of antidepressants containing fluoxetine and paroxetine could lead to severe birth defects as skull and heart defects.2

Some doctors, including Dr. Katherine Economy, who specializes in maternal fetal medicine, argue that antidepressants are life-saving and that depression’s impact on daily life warrants the continued use of antidepressants.3 For now, it seems that the research surrounding antidepressants and conception is still inconclusive in many aspects, and largely open to interpretation.

What we do know is that untreated depression during pregnancy (and following delivery) comes with its own set of risks, including difficulty in coping with stress, severe weight gain or weight loss, preterm labor, and worsening of other symptoms associated with depression. 4 If you suffer from depression, the best time to discuss your options for taking antidepressants while TTC and during pregnancy with your doctor is before you attempt to get pregnant.

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  1. Mayo Clinic Staff (2015 February 3). Antidepressants: Safe during pregnancy? Retrieved October 30, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20046420.
  2. Center for Disease Control (2015 July 8). Key Findings – A Closer Look at the Link Between Specific SSRIs and Birth Defects. Retrieved October 29, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/meds/treatingfortwo/features/ssrisandbirthdefects.html.
  3. Kravtsov, Maxim. (2015 June 3). Antidepressants in pregnancy pose little risk to babies, study finds. CBS News. Retrieved October 30, 2015, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/antidepressants-in-pregnancy-pose-little-risk-to-babies-study-finds/.
  4. Mayo Clinic Staff; See above.

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