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Should women be taking medication to treat their anxiety or depression WHILE pregnant? What are the consequences both for the mother and the unborn baby? I’m Kyle Kittleson. This is MedCircle News.
According to a recent article from Slate.com, “Women who also deal with anxiety or depression are asked to make a difficult choice during pregnancy: take a pill that helps you but could hurt your child, or suffer without medication but keep the ‘purity’ of your baby intact.”
The stigma that surrounds taking medication while pregnant likely starts with the stigma surrounding everything else you shouldn’t do while pregnant. For example, women are pressured to avoid consuming items such as caffeine or deli-meats during pregnancy so that they can keep their womb pure and safe from threats. But are these threats based on fact or myth? Well, according to some experts in the field, it’s mostly fueled by myth.
Another issue is that there are very few studies to indicate whether or not anti-anxiety medications, such as Lorazepam, have any effect on the fetus if taken by the mother during pregnancy. The few studies that do exist are inconclusive, or only indicate a correlation, not causation of issues; such as the baby developing a cleft palate.
In addition to anti-anxiety medications, many women take SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during pregnancy. Should they be worried? According to Emily Oster, a professor of economics at Brown and author of ‘Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong—and What You Actually Need to Know, probably not. Oster explains, “I think in general for a large class of SSRIs, it does not seem like there are significant risks that we can see in the data.”
It’s not just society that is hesitant to approve of women for taking medications during pregnancy - the medical community is also skeptical. Many doctors are slow to prescribe certain medications to pregnant women, and even pharmacists may refuse to refill prescriptions when discovering the recipient is pregnant.
Luckily, there are psychiatrists who specialize in treating pregnant women, and more and more OBGYNs are being trained in maternal mental health.
Remember, MedCircle subscribers get instant access to our library of original content on a variety of mental health topics. For more information on anxiety, watch the MedCircle original series Understanding the Anxious Self with Dr. Ramani. I’m Kyle Kittleson and remember, whatever you’re going through - you got this.
This content is intended for informational purposes only. It should not replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you have a medical emergency, call 911 or your doctor immediately.