I am 14 weeks pregnant and chose to go off of Lexapro when I found out I was pregnant. I am horribly depressed but have chosen to stay off of the Lexapro due to the possible affects on the fetus. However, I suffered post partum depression so severely with my first child and I have suffered depression much of my life and been on medication, that I have a huge chance of facing post partum depression again. My question is: Is there any risk on the fetus if my doctor places me back on the Lexapro for just the last month of my pregnancy so that it is in my system when the baby is born so that I can avoid post partum depression
Is Lexapro safe to use during pregnancy?
Question posted by abeech on 27 Jan 2007
Last updated on 25 June 2012 by kerryhitzke
As a psychologist, I work with many people who suffer from depression and as a mother of 8 , I understand the concern we have over our children's health. On reading all the answers to this question I was concerned about the number of mothers who had assumed their children's difficulties had come from their use/or non use of medication during pregnancy. Children are born with deformities and difficulties of all sorts everyday. They are not necessarly due to medication. Our first point of reference needs to be with scholarly, scientific research. Drug companies are required to conduct research on the effect of their drugs on pregnancy and this research will be available to your doctor. Ask your doctor to look into this research and to give you a balanced opinion of your medication. In all cases, if there is a safer alternative, ie, different meds, lower dose... then choose this way.
What concerns me is that mothers might go without a needed medication because of fear, not accurate information. Depression is a physical condition that effects the functioning of our brain. It severely effects the hippocampus which is the centre of mood control amongst other things. Or babies inutero are very sensitive to their mother's moods, behaviour , nutrition and outside environment. Research has shown that babies react when their mothers smoke but ALSO react the same way when the mother thinks about smoking. Knowing the anguish and anxiety that some women experience with depression, I am concerned about the effect of this on their babies.
So, always consult your doctor. If you think your doctor is not taking it seriously enough then get another doctor. If you decide to go off your medication then have a very good support system set up. Tell your family and friends and employer. Have regular (monthly) sessions with a psychologist who can help with coping strategies. But mostly, be at peace. Fear itself creates chemicals within the body and confusion in the mind. Treat yourself well. Take walks; have long baths with lovely smelling oils; read books that soothe; sing and talk to your baby. Congratulations.
I am 23 weeks and have been on Lexapro since 20 weeks!!! I was soooooo worried and concerned but I was a wreck before I finally gave in and took it. I was prescribed Lexapro b/c I was on it prior to getting pregnant and then went off. I know it works and I had no side effects when I was on it. Anyway... it has been a BLESSING. I went to a psychiatrist... just to make sure he agreed with my OBGYN before I filled the medicine. He totally agreed and said there is next to no risk if you can make it thru the first trimester without it. I also asked about weening off prior to birth and he said absolutely not necessary! He studies these meds for a living and has watched hundreds of woman use SSRI's (Lexapro included) while pregnant. He said that being stressed out and anxious is worse.
I haven't cried, I'm sleeping better, eating better, and FEEL better. I am so thankful I finally gave in and filled this medicine. I'm enjoying the pregnancy, my husband, and son as opposed to worrying about everything. My 21 week ultrasound was perfect. I do not anticipate any issues. These are trained professionals and although you do have to be cautious and do homework... don't read every negative post and think that could be you. I had to post for all of you moms who are just like me. Take care of YOU, too!!! Most likely, near 100%, your baby will be healthy and happy. I had the same anxiety with my first son four years ago. I delivered at 36 weeks and he was hospitalized in PICU with RSV for two weeks. My point... I did everything right and he came early with breathing issues.
Good luck to all of the moms who feel guilty... just as I did... for taking an SSRI while pregnant! I'm a happy mom and I am certain I will have a happy baby. I'll write again after he's born!!! :-)
I want to encourage you just so that both of you are safe that you discuss this with the MD/OB doctor what might not be a problem for one person might be of harm to another, for instance many years ago I had a friend who went through depression and anxiety during pregnancy (before these drugs were out) her doctor prescribed a medium dose of Librium I think I recall seeing where that is not suppose to be give at that time but she had a normal child and all was well so just so both of you are safe it could be possible that the doctor might even prescribe something and even explain what is safe and best for you please take good care
Sorry to hear your suffering. I decided to stay on lexapro with both of my pregnancies. It became a choice of taking care of myself. I needed to have a silver lining of mental stability for ME. You need to take care of you before anything else. My doctors did want me to stop the lexapro when i found out I as pregnant with my 1st but told them HELL NO. I have two VERY healthy children with no issues whatsoever. Please take care of yourself this is your life and there is no need to suffer if you don't have too!
I've done a lot of research on this topic and have also experimented going on and off Lexapro while trying to conceive. When I went off it for 9 months, I developed anxiety so debilitating that I couldn't work, and could hardly get out of my house. I was shaking and having physcial reactions to any kind of stressor in my environment. This was way after I went through the withdrawl of getting off Lexapro. Months after. So, anyway, needless to say, I couldn't get pregnant due to the extreme anxiety. My Ob/Gyn said I needed to get back on Lexapro and that he's delivered many healthy babies whose mothers were on Lexapro and there's a very low risk. In fact, there is more of a risk in being depressed and or anxious during pregnancy. The cortisol levels in your body are very high and your baby will develop the same high levels and have problems dealing with stress into his or hers adult years.
There are many studies that show evidence of fetal difficulties due to the mother being depressed and studies that demonstrate how a mother's depression affects the emotional bond between mother and child which is so critical to a developing baby's emotional state and intellect. In "What to Expect when you're expecting," the author talks about how important it is to take an anti depressent if you need it. Talk to your doctor and weigh the risks. Good luck! Oh, I am 21 weeks pregnant and taking Lexapro.
When asking this question, I think you need to ask yourself a few questions. Is your depression/anxiety so bad that you will hurt yourself or another if left unmedicated during pregnancy? If the answer is yes, the next question would be how would you feel if you had a child who was not healthy and it is possibly the result of having taken a medication that is not 100% safe during pregnancy? Can you deal with this on top of established depression/anxiety and PPD?
I take a high dose of Lexapro but went off for my pregnancy. It was harder that I could have imagined. Some days I worried that my marraige would not survive. I stayed off the Lexapro until my DD was 5 months old so I could nurse. I had horrible thoughts of hurting my beautiful baby and so much guilt. On Christmas I went back on the Lexapro as a gift to myself. My Midwife said I could continue to breastfeed on the Lexapro but I decided to wean.
Life is so much sweeter on Lexapro. I feel weird saying that but it is so true. My husband and I have reconnected and are so happy again
I think we have to be very careful in saying that a certain drug caused a certain side effect of problem in a baby. Sometimes babies are born with problems, but we can't give a cause and effect explanation. You may feel sure there is a connection, but who knows? There are lots of babies born to mothers who didn't take any medications and have birth defects or problems early on. After debilitating anxiety, panic, and depression when my son was 8 months old, I have tried to go off my Lexapro and failed. I am a much better mama with the Lexapro. I am now considering a second pregnancy and my doctor assures me that Lexapro is safe. In fact, my doc said that 95% of her pregnant patients that require meds are on Lexapro and she has never had a problem. I will be taking my doctor's advise.
I think you are very wise to stay off prescriptions during your pregnancy. There are books available - maybe even something online - that can suggest various types of foods to help with your seratonin situation, which, of course is what the anti-depresants do. They might even make you healthier, as well as the baby. How about seeing a counselor during your pregnancy, if you can find a good one?? St. John's Wort helps some people. It is not supposed to be used in conjunction with other anti-depressants. Good luck. God Bless!! It's not YOU.. it's the change in hormones and body adapting to having the new life inside.
I took prozac during the last trimester of my 2nd pregnancy. I know prozac has been studied a lot since it is an older SSRI. I believe lexapro is in the same class of drugs. Check with your doc. you need to outweigh benefits to risks. If you chose not to go on it until you have the baby, maybe have the script ready for the day you give birth!
i am 27 weeks pregnant & was on paxil when i first found out i was pregnant & had been on it for over 5 years. i took myself off of the paxil & have been fine until last week when i began to experience profound anxiety & panic attacks/insomnia. i went to my ob/gyn this afternoon & she placed me on 20 mgs. of lexapro & said it was completely safe for the baby... however, when i got the rx filled the bottle says do not take if you are pregnant or breastfeeding???
Do not take lexapro. Especially during the thrid trimester> I took it and my baby boy had to spend a month int he nicu for respiratory issues> he was swollen up when he was born> he had fluid on his lungs in hsi tissues>he had to be on a respirator tube and a feeding tube> this was very traumatic for me. My baby almost died. Please choose a safer drug. The heartbreak of seeing your infant like this is not woth it. Please please please take a safer drug if possible. As of now my boy is safe but he also suffered from a heart mumur and now he expereinces ear infectiosn and has a hernia at such a youg age 2 months 6 weeks if you count the corrected age. He was born early. Also before her was born an ultrasound had detected that the diastolic blood flow was not functioning right. He could have died please I say again if you can don't take lexapro while being pregnant. I still have trouble forgivign myself for all of this. I don't tkae it anymore.
May I also add that becaus ehe was so swollen I did not get to see his eyes for two weeks. They were swollen shut.
Of course every doctor is different. But one of my friends who recently just had a baby has anxiety and depression as well. During her first few weeks she decided to stop taking it. This made her anxiety so much worse to the point where she couldnt go to work and everything. So when she went to the doctor she told him about it and he actually subscribed her to a higher dose of what she was taking prior. She was previously taking 10mg and he increased it to 20mg and she felt much better. So the rest of her pregnancy she was alot more compertable. So as far as her case her son is a healthy beautiful boy and there was no worries!
I can tell you as a nurse and a mother that every situation is different when it comes to taking certain medications during pregnancy. Medications used during pregnancy are put into risk categories. There are 5 categories(A,B,C,D,X, and NR). Lexapro is a category C drug meaning that animal studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus, but adequate studies haven't been conducted in humans. The benefits from use in pregnant women may be acceptable despite potential risks. With that said, it would be my opinion that you should talk to your doctor about taking this medication during pregnancy given your history of depression through out your life and the fact that you already are feeling depressed and had post-partum depression with your last pregnancy. I also have had depression most of my life and suffered horribly during and after my last pregnancy, but my doctor wouldn't let me take anything until after my daughter was born. I started on Zoloft the day she was born.
Be very open and honest with your doctor about your last pregnancy and what you were feeling. Most doctors are going to be reluctant to give it to you while pregnant, but if you were having feelings of suicide, harming yourself or your baby, just be honest. Nobody is a horrible person or crazy for having those feelings, it's a known fact that pregnant women and the shift in horomones can cause these thoughts and feelings. I hope this information can be helpful to you and good luck.
The bottom line is obviously no one can say anything is safe to take during pregnancy. It becomes a cost benefit, risk vs. reward situation. Personally, I have had experience with the issue. I have a chiari brainstem malformation which cause a wide range of issues for me from horrific headaches, severe vertigo, sleep disorder, neck, muscle issues, depression, anxiety and that's just for starters. I have had two children, both pregnancies plagued with premature labor, bed rest and doctors were convinced the fluctuating horomones aggrevated the symptoms and assured me that taking medications for anxiety and pain were far less risky than the effects of the symptoms themselves on the baby.
Both of my children were born with severe reflux, with the first child it was so horrendous that I would never have planned to have a second. Of which doctors said the chances of another one with the same reflux issues would be very unlikey like less than 2%. Not the case. Just as it was not the case that despite having "true labor contractions" early on with both... I clearly was not in true labor. With the second child they were almost going to hospitalize me and give me a medication that would literally paralyze my muscles causing the contractions to cease, of course so would a lot of other important things for example my ability to eat and thus provide proper nutrition to my fetus. Instead of blindly assuming they were the experts and knew what was best.
Since I was the one who would be paying the consequences I figured I had a right to demand at the very least the information necessary to make the best informed decision. I demanded a fetal specialist to come and do an exam, take some measurements of my cervix, check the levels of things that would actually indicate that this "true labour" was in fact leading to a premature delivery. I was not at all shocked to find out that there was absolutely no indication of that in terms of cervical dialation, effacement, or even my fetal fibronectin levels. As a matter of fact other than the "true contractions" everything was quite normal. I took myself off of all the meds they had convinced me were needed even those to stop the contraction and low and behold the contractions continued consistenly even followed a daily pattern and not only did I not have to be on category 4 bed rest I was able to curtail my activity level around the contractions. I wish I had been so bold the first time around I wonder if my first child would have done better.
I am not saying that it was necessarily the meds that caused her issues as a matter of fact I took far more meds with the second and her reflux wasn't nearly as bad. We underestimate the value of our instincts and our thoughts and beliefs. My gut feeling is that pain (depression, anxiety etc) are all ways in which our body is saying hey pay attention something isn't right. I strongly feel that if we truly pay attention and determine what those things are, even when they are of physiological orgin for example, the herniation in my brainstem only in a small percentage of the time is medication necessary.
As a matter of fact, the use of medications for pain and anxiety lead to a great delay in my finding the answer (no a doctor did not figure it out... it took me years of keeping diaries and being persistent even having to ask despite Dr.'s opinions that certain tests be ordered all of which confirmed my hunches and hence the diagnosis). Point being my symptoms were actually my bodies way of communicating to me that hey somethings isn't right, suppressing them only lead to prolonged and increased suffering. Now that I know what the issue is I can more effectively manage it with out the abnormal levels of depression and anxiety, even pain. It's seems to be a combination of knowledge decreasing those excessive signals as well as increasing my ability to tolerate pain. I do on occassion have to utilize pain meds for pain which I believe comes from my failing to make the accomadations necessary to avoid it (sometimes life just doesn't permit) and there still seems to be some necessary discovery for me to make to control it (mostly related to hormonal cycles). Hands down the most effective tool you have your medicine chest is your brain. I would strongly encourage anyone to read the book called "The Brain that Changes Itself."
I practice self hypnosis which I was taught under the care of a very gifted healer his name is Bill Engel (Purpose Driven Hypnotherapy). I can hear the skepticism, believe me I was the first to object but out of desperation came the most wonderful gift of all. I still have my struggles and it has taken a tremendous amount of work but the herniation in my brainstem has decreased by 2 mm, the total reversal of the curve in my neck has begun to shift in the right direction and I have found that listening to my symptoms and facing my issues has definitely lead me to learn what it is those things are asking for ie. depression instead of sulking and isolating I force myself to go out even if just to the grocery store or for a walk at the beach and to seek out companionship even if just a friendly smile, a seemingly uneventful conversation and I can not even begin to tell you how each and everytime I have been sooooo blessed with more than just peace but actual gratefulness. You can not be angry and resentful and happy and thankful at once. There's a reason that we percieve ourselves as individual despite being made of essentially the same elements, that's a function of our brains and I do believe it is a God given gift and what we make of it will be our gift in return. During pregnancy I know that taking a prenatal vitamin based on whole foods rarther than the one your Dr. likely prescribed you will definitely make a difference.
Also, important to keep in mind that some depression during/after pregnancy is likely normal. Think about it what your body is going through, how uncomfortable you are etc. You are in no way at an increased risk of postpartum depression if you simply don't buy into that (likely because some Dr. told you that right)? You make those choices, don't let someone else's beliefs despite their reasons dictate what your reality is going to be! I'm sure the girl born with half a brain (true story read about it in the book I suggested) would have functioned far less effectively had it been known by some Doctor and had he instructed her on what her deficits would be based on what he had believed about what we thought we know about the brains functions and plasticity. Thank God that wasn't her case. It's amazing the value we place on knowledge Dr.'s appear to have, we accept it inherently as if it were fact, the law. It isn't and this mentalilty is likely our biggest obstacle. You are the expert in you, know that and trust your instincts!!! Accept that it is okay to not feel 100% happy go lucky and then know that what you are sacraficing is literally going to provide the basis for any amount of happiness felt by this new little life and for that you are amazing and worthy of at the very least putting a smile on your face. I swear just try it for a day, especially one of those hard days where it will take literally all you have to put on this show... then go out into the world smiling, acting like that happy person you wish you were I think you will be amazed at the response. I did it and came home and said "Wow,the world sure is a nicer place when your pregnant." Read the book it too will share much insight into ways in which you can actually trick your brain into being happy and ultimately achieving that. Have faith... you will be rewarded. This approach allows you to reclaim yourself, you be in charge instead of letting some medication rob you of your uniqueness It takes persistence and hard work but doesn't everything that's worth something. I have come to believe the value of something is equal to the price you are willing to pay for it.
Good luck and if ever I can encourage you help you to walk through those hard places rather than around them... I would be grateful for the opportunity. Reaching out is sometimes difficult, I used to think it meant not only that I was failing but that I was announcing as well. Once again, a very faulty couldn't of been more wrong belief. The truth is we are social beings, not only can we not survive without one another... would we even want to? I have been blessed with finding strength through wisdom, a gift of reciprocal sharing. It always lightens the burden. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and I know that you will find peace!!
I don't know of any birth defects reported form taking Lexapro while being pregant but I do know that Paxil is used to treat post partum depresson. I took Paxil for 4 years prior to getting pregnant with my 2nd child and I stopped taking it the day I found out I was pregnant. I started showing sever signs of post partum in my 3rd month and my Dr put me back on it. I took it through out my entire pregnancy. After she was born the depresson got WORSE. When my daughter was 1yrs old I then find out that Paxil could cause birth defects with woman taking it during pregnancy and there are law suits against Paxile now .My Dr then put me on Lexapro and it has done wonders for me. You should seek imediate counseling ASAP and DO NOT start taking the Lexapro again unless YOU feel it's safe to take even if your Dr says it's ok. DO NOT TAKE PAXIL during your pregnancy. Good Luck!!!
- Lexapro uses and safety info
- Lexapro prescribing info & package insert (for Health Professionals)
- Side effects of Lexapro (detailed)
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