Depression is common during pregnancy and in the postpartum period. If you have
symptoms of depression during pregnancy or are
depressed and learn you are pregnant, make a treatment plan with your doctor right away.
If you are being treated for depression and are planning a pregnancy,
talk to your doctor ahead of time. You may be able to taper off of
antidepressant medicine before your pregnancy, to see how you feel during
your first trimester. It's best to be medicine-free, especially
during the first trimester. But if you are severely depressed, your doctor will probably want you to stay on your medicine.
Don't ever suddenly stop taking an antidepressant. This can cause
difficult emotional and physical symptoms and may also affect your fetus. Your
doctor can tell you the best way to taper off of your
Depression treatment choices during pregnancy
If you are not severely depressed, interpersonal counseling or
cognitive-behavioral therapy may be all that you need.
focuses on your relationship and life adjustments, giving you emotional support
and help with problem-solving and goal-setting.
If counseling alone isn't enough, or if your symptoms are severe
and disabling, talk to your doctor about other possible treatments:
Light therapy uses
regular doses of bright light (not full-spectrum light, which includes
ultraviolet light). Typically, a person having
light therapy will sit in front of a high-intensity
(2,500- to 10,000-lux) fluorescent lamp, slowly building up to 1 to 2 hours
(Possible side effects include eye strain, headache, feeling "wired," and
trouble falling asleep when light therapy is used later in the day.)
Antidepressant medicine, most often a
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or
sertraline (Zoloft). Fluoxetine and citalopram (Celexa) are not often used during breast-feeding,
because they can pass into breast milk in high levels. If you are
planning to breast-feed and are taking an antidepressant, talk about this with your
Women who take an SSRI during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. But not treating depression can also cause problems during pregnancy and birth. If you become pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of taking an SSRI against the risks of not treating depression.
The U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of
suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the
warning signs of suicide.
Additional measures you can take against depression
Whether you use counseling, medicine, light therapy, or a
combination, be sure to also get regular exercise, healthy food, fresh air, and
time with people who care about you. These are all important parts of
preventing and treating depression and having a healthy pregnancy.
For information about depression after childbirth, see the topic
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.