Posted by Claudia Grazioso on July 28, 2011
A new antidepressant drug has hit the market, and many people are excited that Viibryd (also known as Vilazodone) might have solved one of the major and most common side effects of taking an SSRI. Sexual dysfunction or loss of interest affects many people who take antidepressants, but some doctors seem to feel that it affects women more profoundly. And so the idea of an antidepressant that, in some clinical studies, does not seem to cause sexual dysfunction is good news. But it’s important to remember, if you are thinking of becoming pregnant, that Viibryd is new and has not been tested thoroughly to determine how safe it is to take during pregnancy.
What do we know about it? Viibryd is used to treat depression and Major Depressive Disorder. It is a very new drug in that it is part Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) and part 5HT1A partial agonist. (If you just went “huh?,” welcome to the club.) Basically that means that Viibryd functions partly like a traditional SSRI (like Zoloft or Prozac) by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin in the brain, and partly like a class of drugs like buspirone (used to treat anxiety) and trazodone (an antidepressant) by partially binding to the serotonin receptors. It’s a bit of a double-whammy approach and hopefully it will prove effective against MDD.
But what do you need to know about it if you’re considering taking it while pregnant? Currently, Viibryd is labeled Category C drug, which is the same classification given to most SSRIs. That means that while no controlled studies have been done on developing human fetuses, there is reason to believe exposure to Viibryd could cause harm. In some clinical studies, animals that were given high doses of Viibryd had offspring with problems like lower birth weights and delayed bone development. Like many SSRI drugs, to which Viibryd is similar, the risk is thought to be higher when the drug is taken during the third trimester. Additionally, Viibryd has been found in breast milk in animal studies, so if you choose to take this new drug, it might be a good idea to consider formula feeding until more is known.
Like other antidepressants, it’s best to discuss taking them during pregnancy with your doctor or medical practitioner to determine if the benefits outweigh the possible risks.