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title pic Breastfeeding and Antidepressants

Posted by Deborah Pujoue on October 27, 2011

Breastfeeding and Antidepressants

As various studies have shown that pregnant women should avoid taking antidepressants due to the birth defects risks the drugs pose on fetuses (like cleft palate, PPHN and heart, lung and brain defects), many women are left wondering if they can safely go back to taking antidepressants after the baby is born. One major consideration is whether the mother is planning on breastfeeding her baby.

If so, a few things have to be taken into consideration before the decision on whether to go back on the medication can be made. For example, if your child was born at a low birth weight, it is generally recommended that they not be exposed to antidepressants in the breast milk. However, most doctors agree that the severity of the mother’s condition plays a key role in determining whether antidepressants should be a part of her treatment when she is breastfeeding. Another thing that has to be taken into consideration before giving a breastfeeding mother antidepressants is if she was already taking the medication and reacted well to it or not. Some women don’t react well to SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac and Paxil, but they may react well to tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

In general, it is not recommended for women to take other antidepressants like monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (venlafaxine and duloxetine) or the newer antidepressants (mirtazapine and reboxetine). With all of the potential complications associated with antidepressants these days, I am more inclined to try other approaches — especially since research suggests that antidepressants don’t work any better than placebos at curing depression anyway.

There are many treatment methods that you can try that don’t involve narcotic drugs like Prozac, Zoloft or Lexapro. Those methods are safer and may prove to work better than drugs. Some of them include regular exercise, a nutritious diet and talk therapy. I don’t know how severe your depression is, but if you are breastfeeding and are concerned about exposing your baby to antidepressant medication through breast milk, there is no harm in seeking non-drug related treatments. In fact, it you could be saving you and your baby from suffering the many nasty side effects.

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