Before my husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby, I figured I should try to wean myself off of Prozac. I had been taking the anti-depressant for several years after a couple of bouts of debilitating depression.
After getting the okay from my doctor, I slowly stopped taking my medication. At first, I felt great. But after a few weeks, I was so anxious and depressed that my husband was growing concerned. He gently suggested that I re-think my decision. I saw my doctor and we decided that Prozac was a good choice for me during pregnancy. Luckily, my doctor was supportive of my decision.
Parent Dish interviewed several pregnant women who decided to continue taking anti-depressants despite doctors’ concerns.
Recent reports suggest a link between Wellbutrin and a risk for a newborn heart defect, but the risk is very small – affecting just 2 out of every 1,000 infants born to women who used bupropion (the generic name for Wellbutrin) during the first trimester.
Previous studies have already linked other antidepressants — including some of the most frequently prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa – to higher-than-average, though still small, risks of certain birth defects.
“The absolute risk of birth defects is small but still exists,” Katherine Stone, founder of Postpartum Progress told Parent Dish. “It can impact birth weight and preterm delivery, but so can depression and anxiety during pregnancy.”
As many as 1 out of 5 women have symptoms of depression during pregnancy. Women who have been depressed before are at higher risk of depression than other women during pregnancy.
Ideally, women should discuss the issue with their doctors before they become pregnant. They then must weigh the risks of potential birth defects from using antidepressants against the risks of going off antidepressants.
A study by The National Institute of Mental Health found that stopping antidepressant use during pregnancy poses its own set of risks. Babies born to depressed mothers may be more irritable, less active and less attentive than other babies. They may also be born prematurely or have low birthweight, according to the March of Dimes.
The Mayo Clinic makes the point that not all antidepressants are appropriate during pregnancy. For instance, they don’t recommend Paxil. You can see their guidelines to antidepressant use during pregnancy here.
In my case, there wasn’t much of a choice — I knew what I had to do for my own well-being as well as for my future children. I stayed on Prozac during both of my pregnancies and I’m happy to report that both of my daughters were born full-term and healthy.