Firstly it is important that you seek help from your doctor. Antidepressant medication, in conjunction with support and counselling, is a very effective treatment for many women with postnatal depression.
All antidepressants are passed in very low amounts from the breastfeeding
mother to her baby. Full-term, healthy babies can usually cope well with this.
Very occasionally babies may experience side-effects from the medication but
these usually disappear once the medication is changed or stopped.
The choice of antidepressants will depend on the woman’s individual
response to the medication.
There are two main types of antidepressants that have been used more often when breastfeeding.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).
TCAs (eg amitriptyline) have been available for over forty years and more is known about their safety. They promote sleep and relieve anxiety. They can cause dizziness when standing up, constipation, dry mouth and increased appetite.
SSRIs (eg Prozac) have been in use for over ten years. They are generally well tolerated. More common side-effects include headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, agitation or sleep problems.
Many of the side-effects of these medications will settle within a few weeks.
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