It’s a “large scale human experiment,” said Dr. Adam Urato, the assistant professor of maternal-fetal medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. He says drug companies have overstated the benefits of these drugs, while sugarcoating the risks—all in the name of the almighty dollar.
“Study after study shows increased rates of newborn complications in those babies who were exposed to SSRIs in-utero,” says Dr. Urato. “The Federal Drug Administration [in the US] and Health Canada have put out warnings specifically regarding this issue.” Still, the drugs remain one of the most popular on the market—for everyone including pregnant women.
Not only do these drugs increase the risk of a premature birth, but also miscarriage, and even autism. These facts have been demonstrated again and again. Around 40 studies have linked SSRIs and premature birth.
So, why do mothers keep taking them? Because they are told by their doctors that it will lead to a better “pregnancy result”. Doctors (and therefore their patients) are scared that a woman off of antidepressants is a depressed woman, and a depressed woman won’t only have a miserable pregnancy but may also be at a greater risk of suicide, or simply not caring for themselves while carrying their infant.
But, as Urato says, “There really is not a shred of evidence to support that.” Still, the belief exists.
There are natural and effective ways of treating depression, but it’s understandable that an individual who has been medicating themselves for months and even years would be reluctant to go off of their medication. Depression is scary. And withdrawing from SSRIs can cause even greater symptoms as the body, once again, has to correct the damage that’s been done.
Exercise, some type of non-invasive therapy (not likely from a psychiatrist), a proper diet, and other treatments like acupuncture and yoga have shown to be effective at battling depression. Supplementing with vitamin D and omega-3s may also be the solution. Best of all, they come without side effects. For pregnant women, whose emotions may already be “all over the place”, coming off a drug they depend on may be frightening, but staying on the drug should be even scarier.