Eastenders’ storyline on medication and mental health in pregnancy

Recently, Eastenders’ character Stacey Branning made the decision to stop taking her medication for her bipolar disorder when she unexpectedly found out she was pregnant.

Pregnant woman discussing bipolar medication with GP.

By Joanne Birtwhiste, Tommy's midwife

Pregnancy and having a baby can be an exciting and demanding time for women, with depression and mental health problems, such as anxiety, affecting 10-15% of all pregnant women. If you have an existing or past mental health condition it brings extra challenges and you are at higher risk of relapse during this time than at others.

Medication and pregnancy

If, like Stacey, you are taking medication and discover you are pregnant unexpectedly, is important to tell your doctor as soon as possible so that your treatment can be discussed and considered with you. You should always talk to your doctor before deciding to stop taking medication.

If you are taking medication, and decide you would like to start a family, it’s best to speak to your GP before you get pregnant, so that they can plan the best care for you and your baby.

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).

Listen to advice from Tommy’s midwife Jo on antenatal anxiety, depression and medication

At Tommy's, we believe mental health in pregnancy is just as important as physical health, and urge any woman who is concerned about the way they are feeling to talk to their GP or midwife as soon as possible

Anxiety in pregnancy and medication: Katie's story

Katie had experienced anxiety three or four years before her first pregnancy, and was prescribed anxiety medication which helped her to recover. On the advice of her doctor, Katie came off medication as soon as she found out she was pregnant, and experienced no real withdrawal effects or changes in her mood. All was going well until about 20 weeks, when she started to feel stressed and panicky. 

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