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Maternal Health: Pregnancy and Depression

Maternal Health: Pregnancy and Depression

Our mental health is an overwhelmingly significant part of our day to day lives. It impacts our mood, physical health, social interaction, and everything in between. Depression is twice as likely to occur in women than men, peaking during the reproductive years (1). Furthermore, the National Institute of Mental Health explains that some variations of depression are unique to the hormonal changes in women, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), perimenopause-related depression, and perinatal depression (2).


Perinatal Depression

Pregnancy related depression affects 1 in 7 women- making it an incredibly common disorder (3). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends women are screened for depression at least once during their pregnancy (1). There should also be an appropriate follow-up treatment if necessary because, like other mental health disorders, the consequences of perinatal depression can be severe. ACOG writes: “Maternal suicide exceeds hemorrhage and hypertensive disorders as a cause of maternal mortality” (3). Research also reveals that depression during pregnancy may lead to decreased fetal growth, low birth weight, or even premature birth (4).



There are ways to treat perinatal depression so it does not end in a devastating outcome. Some women may benefit from therapy or psychological treatments. Others may need to turn to safe pharmacologic therapy (3). If your doctor finds it absolutely necessarily for  you to continue an antidepressant or start taking one, here is a helpful guide:


Antidepressants to avoid (4):

  • MAOIs (monomine oxidase inhibitors): tranylcypromine (Parnate) or phenelzine (Nardil) can impact fetal growth
  • SSRI paroxetine (Paxil) may increase the risk of fetal heart defects


Antidepressants considered ok to use (4):

  • Certain SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors): citalopram, sertraline, and fluoxetine
  • SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors): duloxetine and venlafaxine


The takeaway:

Treating perinatal depression is extremely important because of how severe the consequences can be for the mother and fetus if left untreated. On top of therapy or pharmacologic treatments, friends and family should act as a stable support system for the person suffering from depression or any other mental health disorder.



Try BINTO's prenatal to support you and your baby's health throughout your pregnancy.









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