While pregnancy is normally a very special time for parents-to-be, many expectant mothers suffer from depression. Some mothers may experience such severe depression that their doctor may decide to prescribe an antidepressant.
But recent studies have shown that the use of antidepressants during pregnancy may be linked to increasing incidence of pregnancy-induced hypertension.
Anick Bérard, Ph.D., from the Sainte Justine Research Center in Montreal, Canada, is quoted in a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology that up to 14 percent of pregnant women use antidepressant medication. For the purpose of the study, 1,216 women who had been diagnosed with pregnancy-induced hypertension were compared with matched control individuals. None of the women had previously suffered from hypertension.
Of the subjects in the pregnancy-induced hypertension group, 3.7 percent had used antidepressants while pregnant vs. 2.5 percent of control group subjects.
These results show that women who use antidepressants during pregnancy stand a 53 percent higher chance of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension than those who do not. Pregnant women who have been prescribed SSRI drugs are at an even higher risk (60 percent) of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension.
When prescribing antidepressants to pregnant women, it is important for the physician to discuss risks and benefits. Once the patient has started using the medication, their condition should be closely monitored.
Women diagnosed with pregnancy-induced hypertension should not simply stop taking their medication, but rather consult with their doctor and jointly decide on the best course of action. Suddenly stopping antidepressants can result in severe side effects or withdrawal symptoms.
Women already using antidepressants when they become pregnant should not stop them on their own. Many antidepressants take time to work their way out of the body.
Others can take time before they start working as they should. By stopping antidepressants without consulting their physician, pregnant women can harm themselves and their unborn children.