Pregnant With Depression

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 6 2014 @ 9:27am

Lia Grainger unravels the debate surrounding antidepressant use during pregnancy:

My family doctor assured me the drugs were safe and non-habit-forming, and that for a lot of people, they helped. I left with a prescription for Effexor, and have been taking the drug ever since. Now I’m 33, and life looks a lot different than when I gulped down the first of the roughly 2,800 peach colored pills I’ve since ingested. Something new is swirling inside my mind: the idea of a child. So it was with a special kind of horror that, during an afternoon of aimless internet meandering, I happened upon the world of “Effexor Babies.” Typing in this search term reveals link after link to news reportsblogs, and forum discussions detailing a range of negative outcomes in the pregnancies of women on Effexor. Many studies reveal an increase in the risk of a range of birth defects, some of them potentially deadly. I was terrified—and shocked that no one had warned me of these outcomes when I started the drug.

Going off the meds, however, poses another set of problems:

Why? Because there is plenty of evidence suggesting that untreated depression during pregnancy can also be harmful to the child. Most of this evidence suggests a secondary connection—it’s not the depression itself that will hurt the infant, but rather the fact that a depressed mom is less likely to stay healthy and take good care of herself during pregnancy and more likely to engage in negative behaviors like drinking and smoking.