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Should Pregnant Women Continue to Take Their Psych Medications?

Should Pregnant Women Continue to Take Their Psych Medications?

May 9, 2018 | Mental Health, QA

Over 500,000 pregnancies each year involve women that have a looming mental health issue or have already been diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. Atypical medications are used for 30 percent of women that are pregnant who may need to continue to take these medications to relieve the symptoms that have developed with their mental health issues. There has been no psychotropic drug that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use during pregnancy. All medications can effortlessly diffuse the placenta which can cause teratogenesis, neonatal toxicity, or neurobehavioral consequences. Although there have been studies to show what happens when psychoactive medication is taken during pregnancy, the biggest concerns that women may wonder about is if their psych medications will hurt their fetus or if their mental health issues will reappear if they have to stop taking the medication they need.  

Looking at how medications will affect the fetus is especially important to consider within the early stages of the pregnancy. Many risks often take place during weeks three to eight which is during the period of embryogenesis and when most women are unaware that they are pregnant. Attention must be put on trying to foresee teratogenicity so that the drugs do not disturb the development of the embryo creating birth defects or causing illness in the womb. Not only can medications be harmful to the baby, there is also apprehension to discontinue the medication for women who have serious mental issues. Once a woman is off her meds it could disrupt the normal routine that she has. Her nutrition, sleep patterns, and mood can be discombobulated without the medication regulating the normalcy in her life. A woman needs to eat, sleep, and be calm to maintain a healthy pregnancy during gestation and not having the proper psych meds can definitely alter this status.

Some of the medications that women should steer clear of are Topamax, Lithium, Valproic Acid, Ambien, and Sonata. These medications have been shown to harm a growing fetus when taken and should be discussed with a medical health professional to avoid impairing the baby along with a woman’s mental health. Consulting a doctor about medication is extremely important because every pregnancy is different and every mental health issue has its own set of differences as well. Each woman should be treated accordingly to what their specific needs are so that they can continue to thrive with the wellness of their mental health and give birth to a strong, healthy baby.

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