Depression is common during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. If you have
symptoms of depression during pregnancy or are
depressed and learn you are pregnant, make a treatment plan with your doctor right away.
If you are being treated for depression and are planning a pregnancy,
talk to your doctor ahead of time. You may be able to taper off of
antidepressant medicine before your pregnancy, to see how you feel during
your first trimester. It's best to be medicine-free, especially
during the first trimester. But if you are severely depressed, your doctor will probably want you to stay on your medicine.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive mental health services, including screening tests for depression and alcohol misuse, at no cost to you. Learn more.
Don't ever suddenly stop taking an antidepressant. This can cause
difficult emotional and physical symptoms and may also affect your fetus. Your
doctor can tell you the best way to taper off of your
If counseling alone isn't enough, or if your symptoms are severe
and disabling, talk to your doctor about other possible treatments:
Light therapy uses
regular doses of bright light (not full-spectrum light, which includes
ultraviolet light). Typically, a person having
light therapy will sit in front of a high-intensity
(2,500- to 10,000-lux) fluorescent lamp, slowly building up to 1 to 2 hours
(Possible side effects include eye strain, headache, feeling "wired," and
trouble falling asleep when light therapy is used later in the day.)
Antidepressant medicine, most often a
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or
sertraline (Zoloft). Fluoxetine and citalopram (Celexa) are not often used during breast-feeding,
because they can pass into breast milk in high levels. Fluoxetine is also linked to side
effects in some breast-feeding babies.1 If you are
planning to breast-feed and are taking an antidepressant, talk about this with your
Women who take an SSRI during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. But not treating depression can also cause problems during pregnancy and birth. If you become pregnant again, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of taking an SSRI against the risks of not treating depression.
FDA Advisory. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has issued an
advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of
suicide. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines.
Instead, a person taking antidepressants should be watched for
warning signs of suicide. This is especially important
at the beginning of treatment or when the doses are changed.
Additional measures you can take against depression
Whether you use counseling, medicine, light therapy, or a
combination, be sure to also get regular exercise, healthy food, fresh air, and
time with people who care about you. These are all important parts of
preventing and treating depression and having a healthy pregnancy.