Using Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Using antidepressants during pregnancy could have negative consequences for the fetus. In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about antidepressants and their use during pregnancy.
Using Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Last update: 14 June, 2019

Depression during pregnancy has been linked with a high percentage of preterm labor. It’s a common disorder in this stage, so antidepressants have seen an increase in their intake. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about using antidepressants during pregnancy.

First, antidepressants are a key instrument to dealing with depression. When depression goes untreated, it can increase maternal morbidity rates, both somatically and psychologically.

However, the use of antidepressants has also been linked to a higher risk of hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and bleeding. Therefore, before taking antidepressants during pregnancy, you should try to find a balance between the associated risks and benefits.

Likewise, many factors can trigger depression during pregnancy, such as having had depression before, anxiety, low socio-economical status, lack of social support, or an unplanned pregnancy.

Using Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Depression and antidepressants

Depression during pregnancy, or after, is very similar to depression in other stages of life. However, it comes with the added risk that any untreated mental illness can affect the developing fetus.

First, a depressed pregnant woman has fewer chances to provide good prenatal care. For this same reason, it’s likely that women with this condition get involved in unhealthy or dangerous behavior, like smoking or other drug use.

If you’re planning your pregnancy or if you get pregnant while taking antidepressants, it’s very important to be aware of the pros and cons of taking them. Of course, your doctor should be aware of your situation so they can know what to do next.

Antidepressants can have side effects. Some are less likely than others to affect the child. If you’re on antidepressants and you’re planning a pregnancy, you need to consider the following choices before that happens:

  • Changing to a safer antidepressant to use during pregnancy.
  • Consult with your doctor if you can gradually and slowly stop taking antidepressants.
  • If the latter isn’t possible, consider delaying your pregnancy until you no longer need treatment.
Using Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Benefits of using antidepressants

If untreated, depression can affect your child and yourself. Depressed women are less likely to take care of themselves during pregnancy. For example, it’s likely they don’t follow a healthy diet or that they don’t show up to their medical appointments.

Also, women who are depressed are prone to engage in reckless behavior, like drinking alcohol, smoking, or using drugs during pregnancy. All of this can develop serious health complications to the baby like a miscarriage, early labor, and low birth weight.

On the other hand, untreated depression can affect your family life. This includes the parent’s relationship with other children because if you have older children, they’ll need you to take care of them.

For some pregnant women, regardless of their mental state, taking care of themselves can be exhausting. If depression prevents you from taking care of the family, quite possibly you’ll have to keep taking antidepressants during that time, when you might be more vulnerable.

“The decision to use antidepressants during pregnancy should be based on the benefits and risks of taking them.”

The risks of using antidepressants during pregnancy

There’s the possibility that using antidepressants during pregnancy can be bad for your child. Studies suggest that babies exposed to antidepressants while in utero may have a greater risk of the following ailments:

  • Early labor
  • Low birth weight
  • Development delays
  • Lower IQ
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • Deformities
  • Postnatal adjustment disorder

In short, women should avoid using high doses of sedatives like diazepam, alprazolam, and clonazepam during pregnancy. These medicines can cause sedation and difficulty to breathe in newborns.

Using Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Lastly, it’s worth remembering that if you’re depressed and pregnant, or if you’re planning on getting pregnant, talk to your doctor about how to deal with the problem during pregnancy, which isn’t an easy thing to do.

As you might have noticed, the risks and benefits of taking antidepressants during pregnancy should be carefully analyzed.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.