Brace Yourselves: ParentDish Covers Antidepressants During Pregnancy

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So a while back I heard from Julie Rosenberg, a writer for ParentDish who was doing a story on PPD. Honestly it's hard to remember when it was, and I'm not trying to be a butthead when I say that, it's just that I already have no memorywhatsoever.

Recently she emailed again asking me for a pic for the story and I said sure no problem and sent one of me with my gorgeous boy. Yes, that boy.

Then I saw the story came out today and it was ALL about using antidepressants during pregnancy. I didn't remember that being the focus, though I'm sure it was … I had just forgotten. And I thought to myself, "Oh goodness, here we go." Brace yourselves.

The story is actually very balanced, but I can see howthose with preconceived notions will think I'm promoting taking antidepressants during pregnancy. I can see how some of the quotes from mothers who did choose to take psych meds during pregnancycould be misconstrued by some as though these womenwere all happy-go-lucky about the decision. As if it was an easy decision to make.

I can't say anything about antidepressants without being accused of pushing them. Or selling them. Or being addicted to them. Or some other such claim. I do take one for my OCD/anxiety and am not ashamed of that in any way whatsoever. NOT ASHAMED, EMBARRASSED, or any other kind of stigma someone would like me to accept but that I will refuse to.

I did take meds when I had postpartum OCD, but I also went to therapy, so I can't tell you whether one was more responsible than the other for my recovery — or maybe both equally so. I think if you need medication and it works for you, good.It works for me. If you do something else that works for you, good too. Do what is right for you. But now that I've been quoted inParentDish's article on taking medication during pregnancy, I'm sure none of whatI just said will have any bearing on how certain people will respond.

It was anerve-wracking decision for me to make, to continue with my antidepressant when I was pregnant with my daughter.There are always risks when you are pregnant, with taking anything at all. There are also risks — onesof which many people are unaware — that can come with suffering from clinical depression or anxiety while pregnant. When you face a risk no matter what you do,you just have to come to accept that and make a choice. I made the choice to take meds based on the research available to me at the time, and on the fact that I didn't want my daughter swimming in anxiety inside my belly, and that I didn't want my family to suffer if I had postpartum OCD again which was likely.I chose to put the oxygen mask on myself first.Considering the positive outcome, it feels like in the end it was the right choice for me.

Sadly, there isn't enough research to make it easy for people to make a risk-free decision. There is a huge relapse rate for women who've suffered previous mental illness who go off their meds during pregnancy. There are also studies that show that babies can be negatively affected when women take antidepressants and then to make things even more confusing, there are studies that refute those studies and state that the risks to babies are minute. It's hard to navigate through it all.

I'm grateful that researchers who care about this issue are looking into as many avenues as possible fortreatments of mental illness during pregnancy, including light therapy and acupuncture. I'm grateful to the ones that are continuing to look closer at the effect –or lack thereof, whichever the case may be — of psychiatric medication on infants. I am also grateful to organizations like ACOG that realize there is no cut-and-dry answerand offer guidelines to doctors who are often uninformed about the spectrum of risk.

I hope one day it will be easier for those of us with mental illnesses like PPD to makethese kinds of decisions without worry. That will be a great day indeed. As for now, I'm comfortable with the decision I made and I hope that every other mother has as much information as possible and is supported in the decision she makes, whatever it is.

Itwill be interesting to see what kind of comments Julie's story gets. Hope you'll join the discussion.

Update: Strollerderby on Babble.com has weighed in on the topic now as well.

Also, click here for more stories on pregnancy and depression.

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  1. The upside of my children having a sane, upright, and coherent mom far outweighed any potential risks to them. I didn't take antidepressants during pregnancy because I am stupid, or at the very least slow on the uptake, and didn't get treatment until after my last child was born However, I nursed two babieswith plenty of meds coursing through my veins. (Yes, tandem nurslings.)
    I am on three drugs in a wonderful cocktail that allows me to function, and so far each time a child is tested, I get a welcome letter to the Gifted and Talented Education Program. I don't think I damaged them.

  2. I took an AD after having intrusive thoughts following the birth of my first child. My husband and I always wanted two children so I went off the AD about six months before getting pregnant. I chose not to take an AD during my pregnancy despite evidence that the risk to baby were minute. I was feeling good throughout the pregnancy and didn't think I needed the AD anyway. However, I should have resumed the AD once I gave birth but I thought I wouldn't have PPD the second time around (at the time I had no idea the risk factor was 50%), even though I began having the same intrusive thoughts. Also, I was so obsessed with breastfeeding the second time around, that I decided to forego the medication that helped me avoid a big emotional "crash" my first time. It wasn't long (about 2 months postpartum) that I had to resume taking the AD because PPD was coming at me with a vengence. Looking back, I was totally stupid for not starting the meds as soon as I had my first intrusive thought. I also chose to stop breastfeeding once I resumed the med and that left me feeling really guilty, however, the AD helped me to get better and to let go of the breastfeeding guilt. I think if you need to take an AD to have a healthy and happy pregnancy then you should. There is nothing worse for an unborn baby than a mom who is spiralling out of control while pregnant and who will undoubtedly get worse after delivery. Happy mommy equals happy family.

  3. Yikes. I'm not actually sure how I found my way to your blog and I'd not been to ParentDish before, but they lost me forever with the headline, "Despite Doctors' Concerns, Many Pregnant Women Demand Anti-Depression Meds." Really? Really? I thought the post itself did an OK job of sharing the uncertainties, the pros, and the cons, but with a title like that …

  4. You'll find titles like that quite often.
    I've written about them in the past.
    The media add to the stigma as much as they
    possibly can, sadly. But I guess it's
    what gets people reading. Look at those
    terrible moms demanding dangerous drugs while their doctors cry "No! No!"
    It's terribly frustrating, and also misleading.

  5. Thank you for this post. I recently found your blog and I am so impressed with your "voice" and advocacy. My husband and I are planning a family but it has been very challenging because I have Bipolar and have found that working a demanding career in corporate America and not being medicated is a dangerous combination. I commend your support of alternative therapies.
    I recently shared a bit about my journey and experience with Aromatherapy as a healing complimentary treatment: http://www.naturalhealistic.com/2010/05/13/bipola

  6. Thanks so much for your support. I was really caught off guard by the response to my Strollerderby post on Shine. It really saddens and disappoints me to see that so many people are still so ignorant about depression.