Anti-depressants in Pregnancy

pregnant pills anti-depressants

What You Need to Know About Anti-depressants in Pregnancy

Medication has its place in the treatment of psychological disorders. Research tells us chemicals in the brain that regulate mood and behaviour are different for those who have mental ill-health. Neurotransmitters, such as Seratonin and Noradrenalin, can become imbalanced and require medication to correct it and make the individual feel better. However, if mental illness was just caused by a chemical imbalance, medication alone would resolve the problem.

The fact it doesn’t, suggests there are other psychological and social factors involved in mental illness. This is where psychological therapy comes in.

Despite this, I’ve worked with many clients who tell me they don’t want to take any medication for their anxiety or depression. This can be due to a variety of reasons. Fear of becoming addicted, worries about unwanted side effects, or the fear of what others will think of them for taking medication to manage their mental health - the list goes on.

But therapy can only do so much. Evidence shows it may not be as effective without the use of medication alongside it. In other words, lots of people need both.

Challenging the Stigma

I’m here to tell you taking medication does not make you a failure. If you had diabetes or high blood pressure, and your GP said you needed to take some medication, would you take it? Of course you would! So, what’s the difference when it comes to treating symptoms related to your mental health? Yes, there is a stigma, but giving in to this stigma means many people continue to suffer and do not get the full benefit from other psychological interventions.

The typical medications used for anxiety and/or depression are not addictive. They are designed to help with day-today symptoms whilst the driver of these symptoms is identified and addressed. This is typically achieved through psychological therapy. When an individual starts to feel better, and with guidance and agreement from their GP, they can and do wean off their medication. There is no evidence to suggest that once you start taking medication, you are destined to take it forever.

Are Anti-Depressants Right for You?

As your therapist, I will always recommend the best treatment based on the most up-to-date research. Currently this is a combination of psychological treatment and medication if your symptoms are becoming hard to manage. So, what can you expect if you’re offered a prescription?

Many people report that using medication can take the edge off their symptoms. It can help them function day-to-day, it can help them sleep better or rationalise their negative thoughts more effectively. It can also mean they have the headspace to benefit therapeutically from the psychological treatment they’re receiving. In other words, medication can help people feel better quicker.

The downside is that individuals can and do experience side effects. Some can be managed and eventually pass, others do not. Sometimes people need to try different types of medication to figure out which one is right for them. The medication of choice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding is Sertraline, although I have worked with mothers who have also taken medications such as Citalopram and Fluoxetine, in the pregnancy/postnatal period. You can discuss with your midwife/GP and what risks you need to consider before making the decision. It is worth remembering that many birthing people can and do take medication during their pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.

What Next?

If you are considering starting medication to treat symptoms or anxiety and/or depression, the first port of call should be your GP. You can tell them what symptoms you’re experiencing and what impact those symptoms are having on your life. You can also let them know whether you are trying for a baby, currently pregnant or breastfeeding, so that can be taken into consideration. Your GP can then let you know whether they feel medication could help and suggest an appropriate course of action based on the symptoms you present with.

I hope this blog helps you challenge any biases you may have about taking medication for the treatment of anxiety and low mood in pregnancy and postnatally. There is no shame in needing that prescription. Do whatever works for you.

Useful Links

Pregnancy and Postnatal Wellbeing Session

How can CBT help with Postnatal Depression?

Antidepressants - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Clinical depression - Treatment - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Antidepressant drugs | Treatment summary | BNF content published by NICE

 

 

 

 

 

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