Depression Treatment Still Needs More Studies

A recent study of over 30,000 Swedish women has found that antidepressants don’t lead to an increased risk of stillbirth or infant death.

Prescription pills

Prescription antidepressant medications are sometimes used by pregnant women suffering from depression while under the care of a physician or psychiatrist. Any medication that is taken during pregnancy is understandably given on the basis that the benefit to the mother must outweigh the risk to the fetus. However, recent research has determined that antidepressants don’t contribute to more stillbirths or neonatal deaths.

Risks vs. benefits

The research had found a slight increase in both stillbirth and neonatal infant death among mothers who had filled prescriptions for SSRI medications -- such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Lexapro -- during their pregnancies. However, they were able to determine that the increase in stillbirth and infant death was due to factors other than the medication, such as maternal smoking habits.

“The increased rates of stillbirth and postneonatal mortality among infants exposed to an SSRI during pregnancy were explained by the severity of the underlying maternal psychiatric disease and unfavorable distribution of maternal characteristics such as cigarette smoking and advanced maternal age," wrote the study authors.

Depression in moms-to-be

Most of us have heard of postpartum depression, but it doesn’t always strike after a baby is born. Moms who have a history of depression are more at risk of developing new or increasing symptoms during their pregnancy, or it can sometimes strike out of the blue.

The bottom line is that moms-to-be should talk with their doctors if they are having depression symptoms. Your physician will work closely with you to find a solution -- you may benefit from counseling and talk therapy, or you might be prescribed medication. But if you’re hurting, reach out for help.

More on depression

Breaking the silence on prenatal depression
Effects of postpartum depression
Common questions about postpartum depression


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