The data on the effects of taking antidepressants during a pregnancy on the developing brains of babies is not definitively known, as no one can do a controlled trial with such drugs. All data is based upon women’s memories and data obtained from medical records – all well recognized to be often faulty and downright erroneous!
Add to that the fact that antidepressants come in different doses and chemical contents and can be taken for variable lengths of time and at different stages of a pregnancy. All of that goes to making the crazy and widespread recent announcement that the use of antidepressants during pregnancy does not have a link with autism or ADHD or any other brain issues – absolutely unfounded.
Let’s take the ubiquitous SSRI’s – drugs like Prozac, Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft, and the “cousins” Effexor and Cymbalta. These drugs are designed to alter the levels of neurotransmitters! Serotonin is the predominant one impacted. Serotonin is really both a neurotransmitter and a hormone and it has enormous effects all over the body, including the gastrointestinal system, where it is made in huge quantities, surpassing the levels of the brain. And this critically important substance delivers information around the body and is very critical to the development of neural networks in both the gut and brain. To put it mildly, it should be assumed that the potential for harm from antidepressants is great and other measures to deal with depression and anxiety should be taken. There is no way to guarantee safety with these drugs.
It is now understood that moods are heavily determined by the level of inflammation in the body and brain, the overall nutrient status, and hormonal balances and imbalances. Changing the diet to include huge amounts of vegetables and healthy fats, including some saturated fats, eliminating processed food, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, sleeping better and getting better sleep habits, reducing electromagnetic exposures, exercising, getting out in nature and under the sun, seeing the sunset, working on stress and on relationships, and reducing one’s toxic load, all have amazing benefits for mood and will improve the health of the mom and the baby.
Giving pregnant women drugs which impact the very development of the gut and brain is like playing with fire. A brain is a precious thing and there is only one opportunity to create the perfect brain. Mood disorders are much more common in women and it so easy to prescribe drugs and to take them … and it is a challenge to change ones lifestyle habits. But there is no more motivated group than pregnant women to do what is needed to have a healthy baby! So please get the word out that taking antidepressants is NOT OKAY in pregnancy!! Much better options for mental wellbeing exist, which will help, and definitely not harm, the growing and developing new life!