Depressed mothers needn’t suffer the blues without pills

Lifestyle

Depressed mothers needn’t suffer the blues without pills

There is growing scientific evidence that it’s safe to take antidepressants during pregnancy

Nonkululeko Njilo

The SA Society of Psychiatrists says one in five new moms is likely to experience depression, which puts their health and the growth of their newborns at risk . The good news is that there is growing scientific evidence of the safety of antidepressants in pregnancy – and that stopping medication could cause more harm to mother and baby.

“The risks posed to a foetus from antidepressants are consistently overestimated, while the risks of untreated depression are consistently underestimated because of the pervasive stigma against mental illness,” warned specialist psychiatrist Dr Bavi Vythilingum. 

Vythilingum said depression during pregnancy was often not diagnosed and went untreated because the focus remained on the physical health of mother and baby. She said, diagnosed or not, depression could lead to premature labour, low birth weights and developmental delays...

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