Pregnancy & Depression: Weighing the Risks

Women with depression who are pregnant or planning to conceive face a tough decision, along with their healthcare providers. While two recent studies link antidepressant use during pregnancy to potential dangers to the developing fetus, a third shows that women who stop medication are likely to suffer severe relapses. Left untreated, gestational depression has been linked to miscarriage, premature delivery, and low birth weight in infants. In addition, untreated depression is likely to worsen and continue as post-partum depression, hindering a new mom's joy as well as her ability to care for her newborn.

Concerned about cardiovascular and possible respiratory system complications in newborns, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is strengthening warnings about the use of SSRIs in pregnancy. Obstetricians and psychiatrists agree that pregnant women who suffer from depression should consult their healthcare providers and together weigh the pros and cons of antidepressant use during gestation.

Selected Sources
"Acupuncture for Depression: First Steps toward a Clinical Evaluation" by Hugh MacPherson, BSc, PhD, et al., 12/04; "Efficacy of Massage Therapy in Chronic Pain: A Pragmatic Randomized Trial" by Harald Walach, PhD, et al., 12/03; "Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression . . ." by Richard P. Brown, MD, and Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, 2/05; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine "Acute Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression with . . . St. John's wort: Randomized Controlled, Double-Blind Non-inferiority Trial vs Paroxetine" by A. Szegedi et al., British Medical Journal, 2/05 "Age Is No Barrier to Lifting Depression's Heavy Veil" by Jane E. Brody, New York Times, 5/30/06 "Fish Consumption, Depression, and Suicidality in a General Population" by A. Tanskanen et al., Archives of General Psychiatry, 5/01 "Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms," Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.com "Fish Oil Eases Depression," reviewed by Aman Shah, MD, 10/18/02; "Supplement SAMe Helps Beat Depression" by Charlene Laino, WebMD Medical News, 5/5/04 "Is Prenatal SSRI Exposure Harmful to Newborns?" Archives of Disease in Childhood, 6/06 "Studies Assess Mix of Antidepressants, Pregnancy" by Alan Zarembo and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 2/9/06

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