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"If you just look at headlines, medicating while pregnant can seem scary. But it's not good for your baby if you're depressed."
I tried to stop taking my antidepressant
I had been on an antidepressant since my 20s, to combat anxiety and panic disorder. I had never been diagnosed with depression, but when I look back, I wonder if I was struggling with that too.
In my mid-30s, when I wanted to try to get pregnant, I asked some friends what they thought about staying on the medication. A lot of people told me I should stop taking the drug. I did my own Internet research too, and I found studies that linked antidepressants to problems in children later on. I figured, if I could get off it, I would. That felt reasonable to me.
I consulted with a psychiatrist, who said it wasn't a big deal to stay on my antidepressant, but she also gave me a plan to wean myself off.
Right away, I had weird side effects – twitches and odd feelings like electrical zaps – but my mood stayed pretty okay. A few weeks after I took my final dose, though, I began to feel anxious. Everything and everyone bothered me. I tried yoga, I tried jogging, but I could feel myself getting worse.
Gradually, over the next few months, I became really depressed. That's when I started to wonder if the drug had simply been masking an underlying depression all those years.
What helped me when I was depressed
Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I called my old therapist, who said, "You don't have to be miserable!" Just hearing that was so helpful.
I found a psychiatrist who specializes in women who are or want to be pregnant. She explained that while some antidepressants can be problematic during pregnancy, the one I was taking was one of the safest options.
I went back on my medication and, after a while, I got pregnant.
When my daughter was born, there were zero problems. They monitored her closely, and she had a perfect Apgar score. Now she's 3 and is still perfectly healthy.
What I wish other moms knew
If you just look at headlines, taking medication while pregnant can seem scary – but it's not good for your baby if you're depressed during pregnancy.
Weigh the risks and benefits of taking an antidepressant while pregnant for yourself. It's totally an individual decision, and there's no one right answer. Talk to your doctor, and get a second opinion if you aren't sure. Trust your own doctor over online forums and Google.
Read more moms' stories about depression during pregnancy.
As many as 1 in 10 pregnant women suffers from depression. Many don't get help because they're ashamed of how they feel or dismiss their feelings as normal pregnancy moodiness.
If you experience symptoms of depression, tell your doctor and ask for a referral to a mental health professional. Or contact Postpartum Support International at (800) 944-4773 for free, confidential advice and help finding a therapist or support group in your area.