Depression during pregnancy is an important issue. Depression should not be ignored and depressed pregnant women deserve good treatment and care. Part of that good care, though, is providing them with full and correct information in the topic.

I care for pregnant women taking antidepressants on a daily basis and too often they tell me that the only counseling they received about the medication was, “my doctor told me it’s safe in pregnancy.” By antidepressants, I am referring here mostly to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro – which are the most commonly used antidepressants during pregnancy.

In certain scenarios, antidepressant use could be considered to be safer than the alternatives (for example, a patient who is suicidal when she stops her medications or one who would use cigarettes, alcohol, or illegal drugs). But these scenarios don’t mean that the chemicals (antidepressants) themselves are safe — only that they may be less risky than the alternatives.

Key Questions

Click on the link below to access the complete study: Medication Use During Pregnancy, With Particular Focus On Prescription Drugs: 1976-2008

Course Overview

In this course, we are going to be looking at this topic of antidepressants in pregnancy through a six-part presentation. This will help frame the discussion and help you communicate what you learn with others.

  • Lesson one, which you just viewed, introduced the topic, and showed that antidepressant use during pregnancy is now quite common.
  • Lesson two will show that serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is crucial for fetal development.
  • Lesson three discusses how SSRI antidepressants are synthetic chemical compounds that disrupt the serotonin system, and that SRRIs cross the placenta.
  • Lesson four reviews animal studies and human studies that have found that SSRI use during pregnancy poses a number of risks to the developing fetus, and thus can do harm to the fetus and newborn child.
  • Lessons five and six make the argument that the public should be aware of these findings.

Complete and Continue