A study was conducted by researchers at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, where 201 pregnant women with a history of depression were studied. They were not depressed during the course of the study. According to the observations, only 26% of pregnant women who were on antidepressants suffered a relapse compared to a whopping 68% who had stopped taking anti depressants.
Depression, very common during pregnancy, can occur any time during or within one year after delivery. The finding of this study assumes great importance as it questions the established belief that hormonal changes act as a protection against depression. Though few doctors are of the opinion that depression prone women should continue anti-depressant medication, it is recommended that some care is exercised before commencing the medication, due to potential risk to the fetus. Paxil, a commonly used antidepressant drug, used to reduce worry and stress can cause birth defects when consumed during the first trimester according to the Food and Drug Administration report. Though all antidepressants may not carry such degree of risks to the fetus, yet no complete assurance can be given at this point of time.
According to Dr. Gregory Simon of the University of Washington, studies have shown that antidepressants can trigger premature delivery, although the risk is little. In the event of depression being left untreated , it can cause more harm than the perceived harm from an anti depressant drug, by way of increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, less sleep and added stress.
Depression, caused by a number of reasons - hormone changes, a stressful event can cause certain chemical changes in the brain that trigger depression. Depression is an illness that can also be passed on genetically. An insight into the causes of depression can prove a shot in the arm for pregnant women helping them handle it better. Those who choose to take an antidepressant should take an informed decision to aver harm to the fetus and herself. Further, those women who are prone to depression should take adequate steps to prevent its onset and avoid medications.