Is it safe to take antidepressants in pregnancy?

Some treatments for depression may carry risks during pregnancy for the baby. Your healthcare team should talk to you about your care and the risks and benefits of any treatment they will recommend.

Pregnant woman talking to doctor

Your healthcare team will take into account:

  • the stage of your pregnancy
  • any risks the medication may pose to your baby
  • the risk that you might have a relapse without medication
  • the severity of your condition
  • whether you have had the condition before
  • how well the medication has worked for you so far.

Depending on the points above, the recommended treatment for depression could be any of the following:

  • Self help
  • Psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Medication
  • A combination of the above.

If the recommended treatment is antidepressants, your doctor will discuss the risks of the treatment to your baby, including

  • what is known about their safety during pregnancy
  • whether the baby may have some mild symptoms when born and whether breastfeeding may reduce the possibility of these occuring.

If you would like to stop medication when you are pregnant, but medication is the best treatment for your mental health problem, your doctor should talk to you about your reasons for wanting to stop medication and about the risks to you and your baby.

If you understand the risks to you and your baby and still decide to stop medication, your doctor should discuss referring for psychological therapy (CBT).

Find out more about options for treatment and support

Other resources

Sources

NICE (2014) Information for the public: Mental health in pregnancy and the year after giving birth. http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192/resources/information-for-the-public-mental-health-in-pregnancy-and-the-year-after-giving-birth-pdf

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  • Woman lying on sofa looking concerned.

    Will my medication affect my baby?

    It depends on the type of medication. Some types of medication for mental health problems have risks for your baby if you take them when you are pregnant or when you are breastfeeding.

  • A hand holding an array of different pills

    Drugs and medicines in pregnancy

    To be on the safe side it's best to talk to a health professional before taking any new drugs or medicines during pregnancy in case they might have any effect on the growing baby.

Last reviewed on February 1st, 2015. Next review date February 1st, 2018.

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