How Do Antidepressants Mix with Pregnancy? We Asked the Pros

Image via Flickr/ Charles Williams

Maybe you've heard, but the rates of people who are taking antidepressants are on the rise, and they have been for some time. According to the CDC, the United States has seen a rise in depression diagnoses between the end of the Reagan years and the beginning of the Obama era (1988-2008). But to say that it was just a rise is a bit of an understatement:

It rose 400%.

That being said, the current US population has 11 diagnoses of depression for every 100 people. That's a lot of people, but for women of child-bearing age, it's just a bit higher than that. 

{ MORE: In Japan, Bosses Are Telling Women When to Get Pregnant }

We recently sat down with Dr. Siobhan Dolan and Dr. Jennifer N. Lind, PharmD, MPH, a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Public Health Service, and the two of them shed some light on a topic that seems to be kept on the down-low.

Dr. Lind said that “about 15% of women of reproductive age who are covered by private insurance filled a prescription of some sort of antidepressant.” 15% is more than the average of 11%, so women of child-bearing age are of special interest when considering the diagnosis and treatment of depression.

Another reason that this niche group is of special interest is because their ingestion of antidepressants also has the potential to affect their yet-to-be-born babies as well. This is starting to become conventional knowledge, but in referring to a study done by the CDC, Dr. Lind said that about 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. So in reality, women taking antidepressants could be passing the medications they are taking along to their baby without even knowing it. That, Dr. Dolan said, “we suggest that women talk to their healthcare provider — ideally before they get pregnant or at least after they become pregnant.”

Dr. Dolan and Dr. Lind want exactly the same thing that you want: healthy moms, healthy pregnancies, and healthy babies. For that reason, neither of the doctors recommend dropping your meds altogether. What they recommend is talking to your healthcare provider and coming up with a solution that is specific to your mental-health needs and your baby's developmental needs. 

There's no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue, and sometimes, the solution may be a hard pill to swallow (pun intended), but in the end, it's all about the oven and the little bun that's all toasty warm inside. 

{ MORE: This App May Help Us Understand Postpartum Depression and Save Lives }

The March of Dimes has teamed up with the Center for Disease Control to run the Treating for Two initiative — an initiative that has moms who suffer from depression and their babies at the forefront of their minds. For more information about the Treating for Two initiative, visit their website



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How Do Antidepressants Mix with Pregnancy? We Asked the Pros

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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