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Are Antidepressants Safe During Pregnancy?

Report Offers Guidelines for Treating Depression in Pregnant Women

Miscarriage, Low Birth Weight, and Preterm Birth continued...

The group also recommended that:

  • Women who are already pregnant should not attempt antidepressant withdrawal if they have severe depression.
  • Psychiatrically stable women who want to stay on antidepressants during pregnancy should consult with their psychiatrist and ob-gyn about the potential risks and benefits.
  • Women with recurrent depression or those who have symptoms despite drug treatment may benefit from psychotherapy when available.

Psychiatrist Ariela Frieder, MD, who specializes in treating pregnant women with depression at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, tells WebMD that her patients tend to be very concerned about how antidepressants will affect their baby and much less aware of the dangers posed by untreated depression.

Frieder was a practicing ob-gyn in her native Argentina before moving to New York where she did her residency in psychiatry.

"Many women want to stop treatment abruptly and even stop on their own, but this can be very risky," she says.

Jennifer Wu, MD, an ob-gyn who practices at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital, agrees.

"The old conventional wisdom was that pregnancy was a honeymoon period for depression and that patients would be able to come off their medications and be OK," she tells WebMD. "But we have learned that this is not true. It has become more and more apparent that pregnancy is a vulnerable time for patients with a history of depression."

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