Treating Depression During Pregnancy

How can I effectively deal with my struggle with severe depression while protecting my unborn baby? I've tried counseling before, but by itself that hasn't seemed to work. I have found antidepressants to be extremely effective in my treatment, but I'm afraid that the medication will do harm to my baby in some way. I have been suicidal in the past, so I know I need to do something about my depression. I feel caught between a rock and a hard place.

We’re glad you recognize the necessity of addressing depression during your pregnancy. Left untreated, depression itself can lead to a number of problems for expectant moms and their babies, including inadequate self-care, poor nutrition, and an increased risk of tobacco and alcohol use. If suicidal thoughts are also part of the mix, the threat that depression poses for both you and your child is potentially catastrophic. The good news is that depression in pregnancy can be treated.

Your concern about how medication might affect your baby is an understandable one, and antidepressants, like all medications, can have side effects – some that might affect you and some that could possibly affect your baby. Certain cardiac defects, for example, as well as a serious condition known as primary pulmonary hypertension have been seen in some infants whose mothers used certain antidepressants belonging to a class of drugs called selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). That said, although risks do exist they are considered to be very low, and many women have taken selected antidepressants during pregnancy without harm to their infants.

Talk with your physician about any concerns you may have about medication. For a woman who is currently taking an antidepressant and is worried about side effects, her doctor may ask if she would like to try weaning off her medication. Such a move, though, should only be done under a doctor’s supervision.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Mood Swings: Understand Your Emotional Highs & Lows and Achieve a More Balanced & Fulfilled Life

Blue Genes: Breaking Free from the Chemical Imbalances That Affect Your Moods, Your Mind, Your Life, and Your Loved Ones

Mental Health (resource list)

Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care

Living Beyond Postpartum Depression: Help and Hope for the Hurting Mom and Those Around Her

Hart Institute


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