Left untreated, depression can have far reaching effects on both your and your baby’s health. Women who are depressed are less likely to take proper care of themselves. For instance, they may not eat a healthy diet or may skip doctors’ appointments. Plus, women who are depressed may be more likely to take part in risky behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, or taking drugs during pregnancy. All of these actions can lead to potentially serious health problems for the baby, including miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight.
Untreated depression can also take a toll on family dynamics. That includes your relationship with your spouse and other children. If you have older kids, they need you to care for them. For some pregnant women, regardless of their mental state, it can take all the energy they have to care for themselves. Add depression to the mix, and the suffering can become intolerable for everyone. If depression is preventing you from caring for your family, you may need to stay on your antidepressants during this vulnerable time.
It‘s important to keep the risks associated with antidepressant use in pregnancy in perspective. All pregnant women have an average 3% risk of having a baby with any type of birth defect in most cases. When researchers say antidepressants may increase the risk of certain birth defects, they are talking about just a slight increase. So, even if you take an antidepressant during pregnancy, the overall risk of your baby having a problem is still very low.
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